A liberal arts education gives students an appreciation for great works of art, literature and music that push at the boundaries of convention - the edges of “normal.” Attending liberal arts college in Chicago puts you right in the heart of a community that has a history of embracing, breeding and inspiring such unique and sometimes dangerous talent.
The Sons and Daughters of Chicago
Quite a few daring and original creatives were born and raised right here in Chicago. This long list includes:
- David Mamet: The playwright behind Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo and Oleanna, and the screenwriter behind Wag the Dog and The Postman Always Rings Twice, was born and raised right here in the windy city. And clearly he was proud of it! Some of his best work is set in Chicago.
- Studs Turkel: The legendary broadcaster, actor and author may have been born in New York City, but he lived most of his life and did his greatest work in Chicago. Turkel is probably best known for his work to preserve American oral history, but also his outspoken activism, which got him blacklisted from television during the McCarthy era.
- Tina Fey: You may know Fey for satirizing Sarah Palin, creating and starring in 30 Rock, or for being the first female head writer of Saturday Night Live - all very New York accomplishments. However, she honed her comedy skills as both a writer and performer at Second City in Chicago, which is where she made the connections that would get her to SNL.
The Chicago Picasso
Did you know that Chicago has its own Picasso? We’re not talking about a work of art done by Picasso that sits in a museum - many cities have those, including Chicago. What’s different here is that Chicago has a work Picasso specifically designed for and gave to the city, refusing the $100,000 he was offered in return.
It’s both a trailblazing art piece, and a utilitarian structure that kids (and adults) use as a playground slide from time to time. You can see it for yourself in Daily Plaza: when you walk out of our liberal arts university in Chicago, just take the red line from Sox to Monroe. Also, have a look at this home movie from the unveiling in 1967:
Chicago the Muse
Chicago has inspired quite a bit of ground-breaking fiction. Many great novels, plays, movies and TV shows are set here, including:
- A Raisin in the Sun: Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play set on the South Side of Chicago was considered a risky investment originally because all but one of the lead characters were African-American. It went on to win two Tony Awards and inspire a musical version, two films and a Broadway revival in 2004.
- Boss: It may have only lasted two seasons on cable TV, but this show that combines the political drama and psychological thriller genres to create a unique work of art, is enjoying a bit of a resurgence through Netflix. Chicago’s written all over it. Kelsey Grammer stars as the mayor and the opening titles show some of the more interesting visual art pieces in the city.
- The Razor’s Edge: W. Somerset Maugham's 1944 novel is notable for anticipating the embrace of eastern culture by the west well before the beat poets actually made it happen. It also takes place in three locations: Paris, India and Chicago, with characters frequently returning home to the windy city.
Can you think of other edgy or ground-breaking Chicago artists or works of art? Let us know in the comments.