Last December, Museum of Contemporary Art education assistant Caryn Coleman and about ten of her coworkers put the word out to the 100-plus administrators, preparators, security guards, and clerks who slip through the employee entrance every day: “Send us your art!” “There are just so many staff members here at the museum who are artists–on the side or professionally–that we figured, why not bring all this together and show everybody out there how much a part of our lives this is?” says Renee Jessup, the museum’s public relations coordinator. The result is “Insideout: Beyond the Walls of the MCA,” an exhibit of work by 60 MCA staffers that opens Friday at Arena Gallery. Coleman, who also runs the on-line gallery sixspace.com, acted as project coordinator, but the show wasn’t curated in the conventional sense–every person who contributed wound up with at least one piece in the exhibit. There’s “a huge range” of work, says Jessup, including painting, sculpture, photography, film and video, etchings and block prints, and mixed-media installations. What does museum management think of all this extracurricular activity? The staff “is what makes the MCA the MCA,” says Jessup, “so of course they’re very enthusiastic and supportive.”
“Insideout” runs through April 22 at Arena Gallery, 311 N. Sangamon; gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:30 to 6:30 and Sundays from noon to 4. A free opening reception will be held next Friday, April 13, from 6 to 10; call 312-421-0212 for more information.