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Michael Piazza

Cleve Carney Art Gallery

Michael Piazza’s death in 2006 robbed Chicago of one of its most persistent cultural and social activists, an artist and teacher who believed that creativity could be a corrective and redemptive force with the potential to ameliorate the conditions of the disenfranchised and the dispossessed, naming and shaming and unmasking those who hold the reins of power (art-world power included). In Piazza’s life the personal and the political were ever fused, and his ongoing work with, for example, the inmates of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center of Cook County was rooted in his disgust that such a place existed at all, and in his belief that the individuals he found there were more in need of cultural intervention than any art collector. In Time Book, Attention, 1998, Piazza worked with former juvenile inmates to make bars of clear tinted soap that had handcuff keys embedded in them; another

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