31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit (Laboratory) @ Chicago

On-going Project: Class, Workshop and Exhibition @ Sullivan Galleries, Department of Exhibitions
at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Class: August 1st – 19th 2011.
Exhibition: 9th September 2011 – December 2011.

31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit (Laboratory) @ Chicago

I was invited to be a visiting faculty member at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I would co-teach the Advance Curatorial Practice class with Professor Bob Peters. The end of the course was to culminate in an exhibition, and my intention was to invite all five students enrolled in the course to curate the exhibition collaboratively. I also planned to open the exhibition up to the audience so that others, responding to the students’ work, could also curate works relevant to the concept of the 31st Century Museum and “Contemporary Spirit”. The main content of this exhibition is thus comprised real-life examples of “Contemporary Spirit,” derived from both student experiences and the course’s two-week long workshop, and from the experience of exchange and discussion facilitated by the workshop.

In my opinion, this exhibition urges to find a question rather than an answer because we cannot find the answer without asking the right question. (A saying from my friends, Sompoth and Mit.) From this, I am attempting to convey my thoughts and experiences through language, which forces me to reorganize them more systematically. Often, this occurs when we are trying to comprehend diverse commentary and experiences in the process of defining the term “Contemporary Spirit”.

The most basic methodology of curation is to select the works that inspire the living condition; it can be any direct or indirect inspirational moment in which one experiences that effect. The most significant consideration in selecting work is the sincerity toward oneself as human being and curator. The selection might not make any sense to others, but that is not the concern here. The curatorial selection is only taken into account when important to the individual, as the objective of 31st Century Museum (our body, our museum – spirit is art) is to respect the subjective value of individual experience. This spirituality cannot be judged or evaluated. It has a personal quality and memory like the finger print, in that they all look similar at first glance, but the particularities emerge when we gaze. We are the same, yet different; all of us is part of each other by nature.

I strongly believe in value of everything, including truth, goodness and beauty. These things emerge from the relationship of time and personal experience; nothing is not absolute. Therefore, it is of upmost significance that we strive to open our minds and learn to recognize and have concern for other people’s opinions. When one opinion might crucial to oneself, others opinion might critical for them too. I think the conflict in this world is caused by that little thing in our minds that keeps us from valuing other people’s opinions as much as our own. We tend to look at the world only from a viewpoint that is constructed from our own experience. We do not urge ourselves to look at the world as it is in order to truly understand both ourselves and the world. To go beyond the limits of conventional contemporary knowledge, beliefs and social values is the objective of 31st Century Museum (Laboratory) @ Chicago.

6 August 2011



Free Education, Education-Free

On Sunday, July 31, I saw a “Family Fun Activity Zone” signboard while I was walking through Millennium Park. When I entered it, I saw families enjoying all sorts of activities together, from drawing to playing toys and reading. All of these activities were organized by A.R.T (Art Resources in Teaching ). I got a chance to interview two volunteers about the origin and mission of this project. They said that the project was established in 1894 and its mission is to provide free arts education to those who lack opportunity. Right now, the project seeks artists to teach in elementary schools that lack Art teachers, and the project seeks funding so the school need not pay anything to A.R.T., as the organization will fundraise to pay to the teachers. I was very impressed by the goals of this organization and that they focus on the society and they believe that to educate children in the arts is to plant the creativity that develops their virtue, which is the core of society; children comprise the society of the future.

This reminded me of Cooper Union in New York, which has a similar objective. Peter Cooper, the founder, believed that education should be “free as water and air” for all people, without exception. That idea inspired me to take interest in forms of alternative education that give people all people the chance to study, and has and led me to work on projects such as the “One Year Project” and “Creative Sharing Workshop.” I think that education that highlights spiritual values and embodies social responsibility is necessary in this contemporary world because our formal education tends to make its goal individual pleasure and consumption of resources. I think that knowledge that is able to transfer spiritual value to society begins with sharing and helping rather than seeing education as a business, organization, or institution. This should be the policy of all nations and humanity.

Think about it, for fun. If all the wealthy in every city in every nation were to see this social benefit and donate funding to an organization such as A.R.T., or build their own school like Peter Cooper, how do you think the world would change?

7 July 2011

Have a great night!

July 28, 2011 was my first day in Chicago. The Sullivan Galleries’ hospitality made me feel great already. After Trevor, Christina, Nora and Vipash took me to a welcome dinner, everyone went home while I walked past a Mexican fast food establishment. There was a group of four to five young people eating and waving a sign. It was written on a food wrapping paper and it said, “Have a great night.” They were also waving their hands at all the pedestrians, including myself. I misunderstood and thought that they were waving to some friends behind me, but when I turned back and there was nobody, and I realized that it was me to whom they were waving. I was both skeptical and amused for just a moment, which made my first day in Chicago even more meaningful.

When I went back to my hotel, I was still impressed by that moment, which made me decide to pick up my camera. I walked back to take their picture and interview them. Kyra Buleza, one member of the group, said that she did it just for fun, without any particular reason, and that this was the first time they had done anything like this. I asked her where she got this idea, and she said it was inspired by her grandfather. He liked to talk positively and send encouraging messages, cheering up his family, friends, and everybody around him; thus he was surrounded with encouragement as he approached the end of his life. Furthermore, she said, motioning at the guys sitting beside her, that she got five new friends from her idea, “Including you!” she said, pointing at me.

The information that I gleaned from our conversation made this day another good day. It gave me understanding and made me confident that everyone has the ability to change the society in which they live using their actions in everyday life. We have tremendous energy and creativity within ourselves, without needing to be an artist. This is another simple example of something that everyone can do, starting with this positive intention to share happiness with people around you. “Have a great night ! ” Thank You.

Kimsooja, korean artist, visits the space with Mary Jane Jacob and the MFA class.

To Kamin 
From MJ 
October 2, 2011

Exhibitions in our school are always in motion. Shows go up and down fast; that is how students learn, and there are always more students to show and learn (we display the work of over 1,000 students annually). The exhibition that Kamin and students from the School of the Art Institute have created is one that is in perpetual motion. On view much longer than most—it is here all fall semester—it is constantly changing. It is the receptacle for new works and new participants, the setting for action and activities. (For me, it has become my “companion classroom” where I bring more inspiring artists, as Kamin is, to share thoughts with students in a comfortable atmosphere that enhances their receptivity and listening while welcoming these visitors.) We have staged other shows that operate in this fluid way. In fact, we opened the Sullivan Galleries three years ago with Department (Store), a grand collaboration between artist J. Morgan Puett and the students and the city. It set the pace for the way we work. Kamin has continued this direction and at the same brought the experience to a new level of being in the gallery.

We are a school with a museum: when the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was founded in the 1850s, it soon became evident that to learn how to make art, one needed to look at art. An initial collection has today become the museum of the Art Institute, one of the greatest collections in the US. Their students have learned through the decades from the masters, from deep looking, incidental moments, or accidental encounters with works in the museum. With Kamin we have a living museum.

Our focus as a school is on artists today. They are, of course, living, breathing beings, and we seek to help them find how art can be their life’s work. But their life is also part of their art—at best it is their art. Artists live their practice and their practice of life is art. Yet this is not a concept that fits so comfortably in the world of museums which focus rather on the care and display of objects, and where the monetary value these objects at times overrides what else that artwroks possess and can convey. Kamin has brought us back to see what art can mean in our lives and, even more so, to see the art we live with in everyday and whose value is also great. This is a lesson for students and of all of us.

Mary Jane Jacob
Executive Director of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

31st Century Museum of Contemporary Spirit (Laboratory) @ Chicago

Kamin Lertchaiprasert

Project Director:

Mary Jane Jacob


Vipash Purichanont

Project Staff:

Trevor Martin

Kate Zeller

Christina Cosio

Vipash Purichanont

Norman L. Miller


Kamin Lertchiaprasert

Prof. Bob Peters

Assistant Instructor:

Vipash Purichanont

Students and Participants:

Joel Parsons

Katie Waddell

Lauren Goldstein

Marissa Lee

Rebecca Hernandez

Yefeng Wang

Xin Wang

Video Editor:

Yefeng Wang

Xin Wang

Support Staff:

Todd Cashbaugh

Timothy McMullen

Lucas Bucholtz

Abigail Wilson

Sarah Welch

Haley Martin

Annie Bielski

Brian Khek

Olivia Irja Strautmanis

Chanel C Thomas

Anthony Blair Creeden


The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Sullivan Gallery

Dorchester Project:Theaseter Gate, Eirn Toale

City Farm Chicago:Ken Dunn

Wat Pa Chicago

The Thai Consulate-General

Consul General:Narong Sasitorn

Udom Surangsophon

Prof. Sarah Peters

Prof. Nora Taylor

Prof. Sandra Cate

Rangsan Rattawavichit

Kanchana Sakulsorn

Tanee ChannaTup

Suriya Noitumyea

Panupong Pinyo

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