Under the resonant rubric “Justice,” the 2017 Open Engagement (OE) conference was held April 21-23 at the University of Illinois at Chicago and other sites across the city.


The gathering of artists and others involved in socially engaged art offered more than 100 workshops, presentations, panels, conversations, tours, parties and projects, all focused on what OE’s website calls “creative work at the complex intersection of art and social justice.”


Theaster Gates, Maria Gaspar, Maria Varela, Ai-jen Poo, Marisa Jahn and Laurie Jo Reynolds were among the local, national, and international presenters in attendance.


Among the many Chicago-based organizations contributing to the conference were the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the National Museum of Mexican Art.


This year’s confab, co-presented with the School of Art and Art History at UI/Chicago, was the second in a three-year sequence. The 2016 gathering, under the heading “Power,” was held in Oakland, California in partnership with the Oakland Museum of California and the California Institute of the Arts; in 2018, the conference will take place in New York, in collaboration with the Queens Museum and under the banner “Sustainability.”