Society of Smallness

Small Beginnings

The Society of Smallness emerged from a need to carve out a creative space, no matter how small, amidst personal loss and the demands of a full-time job. The idea grew from an insignificant event in the fall of 2012. As I shared lunch with a friend in the Sculpture Garden at the Art Institute of Chicago, bird poop landed in the purlicue of my right hand (the space between the thumb and index finger). I took this as a sign to pay attention to small, seemingly insignificant events. The Society of Smallness grew out of this practice. 

Over time,  the Society of Smallness evolved into a collective of diverse members of all ages and backgrounds. We have organized miniature exhibitions; programmed Clutch Gallery, a 25-square-inch exhibition space within artist Meg Duguid's purse; and facilitated the open soapbox at the Newberry Library's Annual Bughouse Square Debates among other activities. 

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Above: Curator Dieter Roelstraete poses behind a metal object designed by Brazilian artist Ricardo Basbaum. On view is artist Jean Sousa's Miniature Asian Ceramics and Portuguese Hankies.

Mini-Exhibitiothon I

Mini-Exhibitiothon I consisted of ten tiny shows in five hours. The event served as an inaugural event for the Society of Smallness. The ten shows featured visual, sound, and video art and took place in a steel object (a.k.a. NBP) which was on loan to the SOS from the Logan Arts Center as part of its exhibition “Would you like to participate in an artistic experience?” by Ricardo Basbaum.

Hair and String by Fred Lonberg-Holm

The sound of a strand of hair on a cello string captured on the artist's iPod.

Enacting The Post by Jessica Hyatt 

Reminders the artist wrote to herself as part of her job as coordinator of school tours at a major museum.

Let's Play Canicas by Alex Mendez

A game that started out with instructions but soon evolved into  joyful anarchy.

Above and right: Kate Thomas performs Inaugural Rites: The Embodied Thing.

Small things

"Small things build and you know what happens next: the cicadas are sucking root juice, the humming bird winters in the tropics, the mole is naked, and emergency sewing kits go unused."

—The Society of Smallness's Minifesto

View from The Mansion, a 1950's vintage tin dollhouse that was repurposed as an exhibition space. Curated for the Society of Smallness's Mini-Exhibitiothon II by Annie Morse, The Mansion featured work by seven artists. On the right, a painting by L.A. based artist Carl Baratta.

Mini-Exhibitiothon II

Building on the underachievements of Mini-Exhibitiothon I, The Society of Smallness humbly presented Mini-Exhibitiothon II: the Duchess Credenza Arts District. Located throughout the nooks and crannies of our Chicago home, the district comprised a smidgen of up and coming, thimble-sized visual art venues and fledgling research bureaus. In addition to incredible art in impossibly small places, Mini-exhibitiothon II featured cartographers, a nature guide, and not one, but two pseudo Napoleonic scholars. Twelve hours of events ran from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. 


Many people have contributed to this project; this is a partial list: Kevin L. Burrows (aka the Mayor of Bucktown), Lissette Bustamante, Will Clinger, Paul Durica, Marcos Herrera, Jessica Hyatt, Marianne Joyce, Allison Kelly, Henry Harris, Bill Kirby (aka Captain Chicago), Patrick McGee, Jeff Michalski, Chris Molina, Annie Morse, Daniela Perez, Kat Seno, Andrea Torres, Matt Stone, and Bettina Valverde.

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