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The Last Voice Performance at the Art Institute

Monday, May 25th, 2009
Art Institute of Chicago Building North Lion
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For years, one of my most favorite programs at the Art Institute of Chicago is the lunch-hour, 45-minute “Voice Performance.” While a featured artist’s works—paintings or sculptures or photographs—are projected on a large screen, a professional actor or actress, pending on the gender of the featured artist, speaks on the stage, voicing the words written or spoken about art or his/her own work by the artist. It is so well-done that many times I found myself touched into tears.

I was shocked by the announcement that the program would be shutdown when I was there attending Pablo Picasso performance last Thursday. “Next week’s program will be on Matisse. It will be our last performance. Please say ‘Thanks’ to Mary Sue Glosser, director of the program. She has run the program for twenty years…” The announcement was made after the introduction of that day’s performance, without any fanfare.  I’ve attended many sessions of the program introduced, or sometimes, even performed by Mary Sue. She is a wonderful speaker and has always produced a very informative and inspiring performance. She was not there making the announcement last week. I felt terribly sad about the loss. All year round, no matter what kind of weather, there would be at least 40 or 50 in the audience. No reason was given for the cancellation. With the recent opening of the new modern wing, I was looking forward to more exciting programs. I was and still am very disappointed.

I’ll be out of town this week, therefore, won’t be able to attend the last performance. If you are in Chicago, I strongly recommend that you stop by and enjoy the performance on Matisse and hopefully meet with Mary Sue.

I’d like to salute to Mary Sue Glosser for her long-time contribution. It was her program that initially drew me to the museum and turned me to be a museum member.  


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China.

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