The Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry is a forum at the University of Chicago for experimental collaborations between artists and scholars. The Center seeks to intervene in existing structures that keep scholarship and the arts separate from each other, and to help reimagine new relationships between them.
At the Center’s heart are its year-long collaborative fellowships involving at least two people, one from inside and outside the university community, who eventually co-teach a course open to undergraduate and graduate students. The experimental nature of the Gray Center’s work has yielded a wide variety of forms through which past, current, and prospective fellows share their work with diverse constituencies on campus, throughout Chicago and the US, and globally; these include the monthly public conversation series Sidebar and (virtually) FarBar; the experimental music/performance initiative Gray Sound; various conferences and symposia; and our biannual journal Portable Gray, published by University of Chicago Press and distributed to over 30 countries on 4 continents. The hallmark of the Gray Center is the creation of a zone of commitment that allows scholars and artists to take risks not otherwise possible given their professional profiles. The Gray Center, in short, is a place for serious play and genuine exploration.
In fall 2013, the Gray Center moved into its permanent home, the Gray Center Lab in Midway Studios, which features a flexible 1000 square foot workspace that can be configured as a studio, lab, or classroom, as well as an installation, exhibition and performance space. The Center also offers office space to project collaborators.