CHF Announces New Annual Spring Festival

The Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) announces the launch of the 2016 Spring Festival,Style, with more than 20 programs taking place in and around Chicago April 28-May 1. Exploring how style shapes who we are as individuals and what we value across cultures, CHF is making the bold statement, “style matters.”

“In our new annual spring festival, CHF will be looking at style as a force that can fundamentally change the world,” said Alison Cuddy, CHF’s Associate Artistic Director. “From the runway to the street corner, the hoodie to the hijab, we’ll be exploring not only fashion, but also the style of politics, music, literature, and more. With this spring fest, CHF is truly becoming a year-round organization. We’re thrilled to offer our signature style of Festival programming to those who join us each Fall, as well as those who may be entirely new to our events.”
Confirmed presenters for the 2016 Spring Festival include Huffington Post co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington, New York Times bestseller Karl Ove Knausgaard, Golden Globe and Emmy Winner Mary-Louise Parker, fashion legend Iris Apfel, acclaimed photographer Sally Mann, Pulitzer-Prize winning critic Margo Jefferson, National Book Award winner and bestselling author Andrew Solomon, designer and dresser of the First Lady, Maria Pinto, and Second City legend and Cheers actor, George Wendt. CHF will present more than 20 Style events throughout downtown, including at the chic Chicago Athletic Association, the iconic Art Institute of Chicago, and the newly remodeled Studebaker Theater.
CHF will unveil its complete Style schedule March 1 at Tickets go on sale to Members on March 1 and to the general public on March 3.
In addition to Style, CHF, in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, will host a day-long focused exploration and conversation on the state of our cities. Titled Our Cities: Art, Action, Urban Experience, CHF will feature both local and national MacArthur Fellows for a series of conversations about critical issues confronting our urban areas including immigration and education. This day-long program, scheduled for Sunday, May 15, honors the 35th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program, which recognizes exceptionally creative people who inspire us.

“It’s been a longtime ambition of our organization to offer year round programs featuring the great minds of our time who enlighten, entertain and connect our audiences to big ideas,” said Phillip Bahar, CHF’s Executive Director. “With our new annual festival, our MacArthur programs, and other programs throughout the Spring season, we’ll create additional spaces where Chicagoans can challenge the boundaries of contemporary knowledge and culture.”

The following programs are currently on sale at
Sunday, February 7, 2016 | 1-3 PM
Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E Washington St) | FREE
Blurring the lines between machine and animal, art and science, sculpture and performance, Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen is making its Midwest debut this Winter at the Chicago Cultural Center. Working along the Dutch seacoast, artist Theo Jansen has spent the last 25 years developing and evolving his Strandbeests, which today have become a global phenomena. This conversation is part of a weekend-long opening celebration of the exhibit which will be on display through the Spring.

In Conversation with Laura Washington, Chicago Sun Times
Monday, February 8, 2016 | 6-7 PM
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple (77 W Washington St) | G $12, M $9, ST $5

Michael Eric Dyson is one of our nation’s premier intellectuals and a staunch defender of civil discourse. Nowhere is this more evident than in his keen-eyed view of the Obama presidency. By turns heralding and lambasting, Dyson follows the President’s navigation of race and racism in America- including the national crisis spawned by the traumatic killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and others. Now with his long-awaited book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson returns to Chicago to discuss the meaning of America’s first black presidency. Laura Washington, Chicago Sun-Times columnist and ABC-7 analyst, joins him in conversation.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 | 7-8 PM
Bottom Lounge (1375 W Lake Street) | G $12, M $9, ST $5

Irvine Welsh catapulted onto the literary scene with his debut novel
Trainspotting, a lurid, frenetic, and hilariously squalid tale of Scottish drug addicts and other lowlifes, which came to define 1990s Britain. His interest in the language and mores of Edinburgh’s working class has continued over 13 novels and short story collections, including his latest A Decent Ride, which follows the adventures of a drug-dealing, sex-obsessed cab driver. Jessa Crispin of Bookslut joins Welsh in conversation to talk about his distinctive literary style and influences.
Monday, March 14 | 6-7 PM
Fourth Presbyterian Church, Buchanan Chapel at the Gratz Center (126 E Chestnut) | G $12, M $9, ST $5
The first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi has inspired millions around the world through her outspoken defense of human rights in Iran. Stripped of her judgeship after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Ebadi continued to defend those persecuted by the regime, even as it seized her offices, arrested her family and threatened her with assassination. Her new book, Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran, tells of these harrowing years.Human rights activist Bernardine Dohrn joins Ebadi for a discussion about her story of extraordinary courage and integrity. Translated from Farsi.
Monday, April 11 | 12-1 PM
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple (77 W Washington St) | G $12, M $9, ST $5

An instant bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald’s story of adopting and raising one of the most wild and vicious predators in nature has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Heart-wrenching and humorous, H Is for Hawk is both an unflinching account of Macdonald’s bereavement after her father’s death, and an absorbing history of falconry. CHF welcomes the multitalented writer, poet, and naturalist for a discussion of her memoir and her debut poetry collection Shaler’s Fish with CHF’s Associate Artistic Director Alison Cuddy.
  • Sunday, February 7, 2016– Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen
  • Monday, February 8, 2016– Michael Eric Dyson on the Black Presidency
  • Tuesday, March 8, 2016– Irvine Welsh: A Decent Ride
  • Monday, March 14, 2016Shirin Ebadi: A Voice Not Silenced
  • Monday, April 11, 2016– Helen Macdonald: H Is for Hawk
  • Thursday, April 28, 2016– Inauguration of CHF Spring festival with theme “Style”
  • Sunday, May 15, 2016– MacArthur Festival
About the Chicago Humanities Festival
For more than 25 years, the Chicago Humanities Festival has celebrated the questions that shape and define us as individuals, communities, and cultures. For the curious at heart, CHF’s vibrant year-round programming and robust Fall Festival offer the opportunity to engage with some of the world’s most brilliant minds. Collaborating with leading arts, cultural, and educational organizations, it presents scholars, artists and architects, thinkers, theologians, and policy makers that change how we see the world, where we’re from, and where we’re going. Under the leadership of Executive Director Phillip Bahar, Marilynn Thoma Artistic Director Jonathan Elmer, and Associate Artistic Director Alison Cuddy, CHF is one of Chicago’s most vital presenting organizations. Visit for more information.
About The Chicago Community Trust
The Chicago Community Trust, our region’s community foundation, partners with donors to leverage their philanthropy in ways that transform lives and communities. Since its founding in 1915, the Trust has awarded approximately $2.3 billion in grants to thousands of local and national nonprofits, including $164.5 million in 2014. Throughout its Centennial year, The Trust will celebrate how philanthropy in all its forms-time, treasure and talent-strengthens our region and impacts the lives of its residents in countless ways.