On Saturday, November 19th over 1500 Chicagoans descended upon the Museum of Contemporary Art for an evening of artistic exploration and discovery. Art enthusiasts, students, and those who wish to have a good time, gather for the highly coveted MCA Prime Time.

While most museum doors shut once the clock hits 5; for MCA Prime Time attendees the night remains young. For one night, we roam the spacious museum corridors and dance the night away.

The white sterile walls of the museum illuminate intergalactic fluorescent hues of purple and blue. The quiet halls echo with the thunderous beating of drums. A throne of flowers entices us to sit amongst its beauty.

These are just a few of the memorable sights at MCA Prime Time: Ascend.

Photo Credit: Nathan Keay
Photo Credit: Nathan Keay

Now We Ascend

With each series, MCA Prime Time explores a new theme meant to provoke and awaken a curiosity in each of the attendees. Previously, the theme was Refresh.

This time, guests would Ascend into this magical world of artistic expression while exploring the themes of growth, renewal, ritual and harmony.

To help bring this vision to life,  MCA partnered with online music magazine Pitchfork to transform the museum into an artistic escape.

Each experience was perfectly selected to fit the theme by co-curators Kristen Kaza of No Small Plans Productions and Ann Meisinger of MCA.

Photo Credit: Nathan Keay
Photo Credit: Nathan Keay

The Ascension Experience

To get everyone riled up for the night to come, the event opened with an energetic DJ set by Audiojack of Slo’Mo Party.

While the DJ set vibrated throughout the museum, guests are encouraged to explore and witness interactive video installations by Ben Baker-Smith, Sara Rudy, and Sam Rolfes.

For those who wish to awaken their senses, the lush and alluring Asrai Garden helped guests create smudge sticks.

If one wanted to immerse themselves in a world  empowerment, then one could sit in Joshua Kent’s throne made entirely of flowers.

Artist Claire Arctander served as the oracle of the evening and created the magical world of The Fantasorium. Throughout the event, she placed pockets of intriguing experiences such as a whimsical metallic duo who posed for pictures and mingled with guests.

The Music

The night belonged to women as each act featured a strong female presence.  The all women trio Adachi Taiko performed an alluring fusion of Japanese Folk-Dance and martial arts. Their movements were perfectly synchronised with the rhythmic beating of the drums.

Indie-rock duo Homme entranced the audience with their unique and experimental sounds.

The sweet and soulful sounds of Jamila Woods had everyone wanting to grab their lover. And the poetic and thought-provoking harmonies of Noname awakened everyone’s conscience.

While the event was a celebration of women, it was also a love letter to Chicago. By the end of the night, everyone was on their feet as they danced along with Chicago footwork legend RP Boo.

Photo Credit: Nathan Keay
Photo Credit: Nathan Keay

Until Next Time

When the night concludes, it’s safe to say that I along with 1,500 individuals ascended to new heights. We danced and we laughed as we enjoyed one another’s company.

As I scanned the room, I noticed to the left of me is a girl with green hair, and to the right of me are two love birds are dancing to the beat of their own drum. Regardless of our differences, we all came together to Ascend.

Thanks to MCA for the ascension and I hope to see you at the next MCA Prime Time.


*MCA Prime Time is only 3 times a year so mark it on your calendars. The museum has many events worth checking so check out their event calendar.

If you are an Illinois resident, please take advantage of free museum admission days on Tuesdays. You won’t regret it 🙂