Photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier will be one of the speakers at the Humanities Fest kickoff event on March 22. Credit: courtesy John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The Chicago Humanities Festival announced today its first-ever yearlong theme, Graphic! Programming during the 2018 spring and fall festivals will focus on the ways the visual age has changed how people experience and engage with the world.

Joe Engleman, the festival’s public relations and marketing coordinator, says Graphic! events will explore the “multitude of opportunities,” advantages, and perils that come with an increasingly visual world, including the intersection of visual arts and social change.

“Everyone’s got a phone in their pocket and you can instantly take a photograph of a protest that pops up on Michigan Avenue and at the Federal Building and that can be transmitted instantaneously across the world,” Engleman says. “The sense of spectacle that comes with that, [it’s something] that no other generation had at their disposal.”

The kick-off event on March 22 features #BlackLivesMatter cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullors and photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier. The spring festival will take place the last week in April, and the fall festival will run from October 27 through November 11. As it has every year, the festival will bring together historians, academics, artists, and policy makers for a variety of exhibits, discussions, and performances.

Engleman says the spring festival is expected to include about 25 events, and the fall will likely encompass 80 to 100, though details are still being finalized. The yearlong theme, he says, allows for a “deep dive” into a complex topic. The spring festival is about “dipping your toes in the water,” whereas the fall continues the conversation. In the past, Engleman adds, even if a season’s festival offered 100 events, organizers didn’t get to cover everything they wanted to.

Member sales for the kickoff are now on sale, and the public sale begins Thursday, March 1. The full line-up reveal will be Thursday, March 22, and member sales for the spring festival will begin that day; ticket sales to the general public begin Wednesday, March 28.