LOVE: Still Not the Lesser

Mari Katayama, you’re mine #001, 2014

About the Exhibition

“I use the word ‘love’ here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace…”
—James Baldwin, excerpt from The Fire Next Time, 1963

“Has everyone been in love? Not on the basis of the evidence. If they have, they’ve forgotten it.
If everyone had been in love, they’d treat their children differently. They’d treat each other differently.”

—James Baldwin, from “Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris,” 1970

LOVE: Still Not the Lesser brings together twelve international artists, uniting across communities to share the ways they encounter and understand love. These artists explore dynamics within romantic partnership, sensual eroticism, family structures, social utopia, and life and death. They observe and declare circumstances of love that serve various intentions. 

The projects on view in LOVE range from an expressive courtship dance enacted by two people learning how to meaningfully connect despite barriers of distance, to an embodied portrayal of feeling one’s own sensuality and pleasure. From an adult son’s photo collaboration with his nonagenarian father during his artist mother’s last weeks of life, to the love and pride held within queer parenting. 

Themes of visibility and adoration recur as concepts embraced by many of the LOVE photographers, as they use portraiture and self-portraiture to affirm many different types of bodies as divinely worthy of enjoying gentle care and affection. The exhibition presents love as a universal value of respect and care for all humans.

LOVE: Still Not the Lesser features artists Alia Ali, Alicia Bruce, Jorian Charlton, Jess T. Dugan, Mari Katayama, Kierah KIKI King, Mous Lamrabat, Tom Merilion, Salma Abedin Prithi, Modou Dieng Yacine, Yuge Zhou, and the debut of Jorge Ariel Escobar.

Love is a right of existence.  

– Led by Asha Iman Veal, MoCP Associate Curator


The MoCP is supported by Columbia College Chicago, MoCP Advisory Board, the Museum Council, individuals, and private and corporate foundations. The 2023-2024 exhibition season is sponsored in part by The Comer Foundation, DCASE CityArts Program, Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, the Efroymson Family Fund, the Henry Nias Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency. This project is partially supported by a CityArts grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

LOVE: Still Not the Lesser has been generously supported through the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Impact Fund for Photography.

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