Antonia Contro is a Chicago-based visual artist who works in a variety of media including drawing, painting, sculpture, animation, and installation. Her work explores ideas about knowledge: how we come to know what we know, and how we come to know the unknowable. Many of her works examine the theme of time. She works with traditional art materials—such as watercolor, graphite, film, and clay—as well as found objects and materials from the natural world.
Site-specific exhibitions include Tempus Fugit at the American Philosophical Society Museum in 2012, Ex Libris at Chicago Cultural Center in 2011, Field Guide at Chicago’s Notebaert Museum in 2007–8, Closed/Open at Chicago’s The Newberry Library in 2006, and Descry at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in 2002.
Contro’s art was featured in Surrealism: The Conjured Life at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2015–6, A Sense of Place, the Italian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, The Centennial Celebration: New Acquisitions 2001–2011 at the New York Public Library, and Chicago Artists at the Block Museum, 2007. She has also done numerous private commissions.
Contro’s work is in the permanent collections of the American Philosophical Society Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Block Museum, Davis Museum, Delaware Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, New York Public Library, Taubman Museum, and Wellesley College.
She was awarded a CAAP grant in 2011, a Visual Arts Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council in 2007, and was the recipient of a Rockefeller fellowship in 2002.
Contro has been the executive director/president of Marwen, a non-profit art school for young people from under-resourced communities and schools for over two decades. Shaping and directing this art school has nourished her passion for exploring and learning, and her commitment to equity in education.
She serves on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Mayor’s Sculpture Committee, and was on Emanuel’s Arts Transition Team. She is on the boards of SNAAP (Strategic National Art Alumni Project) and the Streb Dance Company.