The Morrison-Shearer Foundation produces its own events and also collaborates with other organizations in the arts and humanities including Chicago Film Archives (CFA), Chicago Dancemakers Forum, the Ragdale Foundation, Link’s Hall, the Newberry Library, and the Chicago Dance History Project. MSF also funds Grants and Special Fellowships.

Find out the latest news on our Facebook page, via our annual newsletter, "Sharing the Legacy", and here, on our website. 

Newsletter “Sharing the Legacy”

The Morrison-Shearer Foundation Newsletter, "Sharing the Legacy", highlights the events and programs of the past year. Click here to download the latest issue of "Sharing the Legacy: News from the Morrison-Shearer Foundation 2019".

For current and past issues, click here.

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Liesl Olson, Jessica Friedman, and Carol Doty.

Newberry Library visits The Foundation in Northbrook

NOVEMBER 13, 2019

On November 13 MSF was pleased to welcome two new visitors, Liesl Olson, Director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry, and Jessica Friedman, PhD student at Northwestern University. Both are planning to publish work that includes Sybil Shearer-- Friedman as part of her dissertation, and Olson as part of a book about Chicago dance – and were interested in gaining an overview of Sybil’s life and work. Olson is the author of Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis (Yale Press, 2017) and Modernist and the Ordinary (Oxford University Press 2009). Exciting prospects!

Carol Doty and Scott Mehaffey.

Helen Balfour Morrison’s Mies van der Rohe portrait gifted to Farnsworth House

JULY 10, 2019

On July 10, a digitally remastered print of Helen Balfour Morrison’s iconic portrait of Mies van der Rohe was gifted to the famed Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. Presented by MSF Trustee Chair Carol Doty to Scott Mehaffey, Executive Director of the Farnsworth House, it will be displayed in the Farnsworth Visitor Center. The house, built in 1949-1951 in the international style, is one of the world’s most widely recognized and studied structures of the 20th century, visited annually by thousands of architecture students and professionals for whom the house is an international pilgrimage site. Architect Philip Johnson commissioned this portrait for his monograph of the Museum of Modern Art’s 1947 exhibition of Mies’ work. Oddly, Morrison was not credited for the photo until 2016, when it was discovered on a visit to MoMA by MSF.

MSF Trustees and staff at the exhibition.

“The Legacy of Chicago Dance” exhibition opens

APRIL 2019 , THE NEWBERRY LIBRARY OF CHICAGO

“The Legacy of Chicago Dance” opened in April in the Newberry Library’s newly renovated first floor exhibition area, displaying the wide range of the Library’s dance holdings. While it focuses on Chicago and Midwest dance history, the collection’s reach is international. Sybil was well represented by photographs and a stunning costume from the Shearer Collection, gifted to the Newberry by MSF.

Ella Rosewood, Melissa Thodos, Jan Bartoszek, and Hedy Weiss.

Preservation, Tradition and Innovation from Sybil Shearer through the Present

JUNE 13, 2019, THE NEWBERRY LIBRARY OF CHICAGO

MSF and the Newberry co-sponsored the well-attended “Preservation, Tradition, and Innovation from Sybil Shearer through the Present” on June 13. Moderated by Hedy Weiss, noted performing arts critic for Chicago and national media, the program featured three panelists with film highlights.

Panelists were Jan Bartoszek, founder and artistic director of Hedwig Dances; Melissa Thodos, of Thodos Dance Chicago, and Ella Rosewood, who lives and works in New York City. All have recreated Shearer dances — Hedwig in 2012 at the Winnetka Community House, and Thodos in 2013 at the University of Chicago and 2014 at the Auditorium Theatre.

Rosewood’s “Seminal Solos” project includes re-creations of dances of historic dancers, her latest being “Eighth Dance,” premiered by Sybil at Carnegie Hall in 1949, and performed by Ella at the 92nd Street Y in New York in 2018. Interestingly, some of Sybil’s early New York concerts up to 1946 were held in that same Y.

Nancy Watrous, Chicago Film Archives.

The Morrison-Shearer Archives

SPRING 2019

This year all of our major archives were placed in institutions where they will be cared for and be accessible for study. The Helen Balfour Morrison Collection and the Sybil Shearer Collection were gifted to the NEWBERRY LIBRARY and were featured in The Newberry Magazine, Spring/Summer 2019 issue. The Morrison Collection contains hundreds of portraits of “Great Americans,” Chicagoans, and African-Americans in rural Kentucky hamlets, as well as Helen’s papers.

The Shearer Collection includes concert programs, correspondence, memorabilia, costumes, and hundreds of photos of Sybil, both formal and informal, taken by Morrison over their forty-year artistic collaboration. Newberry staff are pleased to have both collections, preserving the interconnectedness of the careers and lives of these two modernist women.

The Morrison-Shearer Film Collection has been placed with CHICAGO FILM ARCHIVES, where for more than ten years MSF films and sound recordings have been carefully restored and preserved. Nancy Watrous of CFA has been a superb partner, seeking grants and opportunities for showing our films.

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The Morrison Shearer Archives

SPRING 2019

This year all of our major archives were placed in institutions where they will be cared for and be accessible for study. The Helen Balfour Morrison Collection and the Sybil Shearer Collection were gifted to the NEWBERRY LIBRARY and were featured in The Newberry Magazine, Spring/Summer 2019 issue. The Morrison Collection contains hundreds of portraits of “Great Americans,” Chicagoans, and African-Americans in rural Kentucky hamlets, as well as Helen’s papers.

The Shearer Collection includes concert programs, correspondence, memorabilia, costumes, and hundreds of photos of Sybil, both formal and informal, taken by Morrison over their forty-year artistic collaboration. Newberry staff are pleased to have both collections, preserving the interconnectedness of the careers and lives of these two modernist women.

The Morrison-Shearer Film Collection has been placed with CHICAGO FILM ARCHIVES, where for more than ten years MSF films and sound recordings have been carefully restored and preserved. Nancy Watrous of CFA has been a superb partner, seeking grants and opportunities for showing our films.

With her work done, our ARCHIVIST, TRACY GOLDBERG (right), retired at the end of September. How fortunate MSF was when she answered its ad on VolunteerMatch.org eight years ago! She came with related experience and soon became MSF’s archivist. She and her husband have moved to Boulder, Colorado.