Art Shay: Chicago Accent


Art Shay: Chicago Accent is a collection of photographs of Chicago taken by Art Shay between 1949 and 1968. Hand-picked by the artist they also reveal a deep friendship and collaboration with his subject, the author Nelson Algren. Together, the photographs capture the culture of the post-war underclass. Shay was a staff reporter for Life and Time magazines before devoting himself to journalism through the lens of his Leica, yet Shay never abandoned his proclivity to write, and the captions accompanying the photographs on view are his words alone. Shay continues to live in the Chicagoland area and is working on several photographic and literary projects.

This exhibition is presented by the MCA Performance Department in conjunction with the Lookingglass Theatre Company’s presentation, in association with the MCA, of Nelson Algren: For Keeps and a Single Day (June 4–29).


With the launch of this website, the MCA has created a platform for archiving and publishing images and stories from our 50-year history. Though many exhibition pages currently lack descriptions or illustrations, we’re committed to a program of ongoing research that will fill in the blanks over time. If you have information about past MCA exhibitions to share, we’d be delighted to hear from you.