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History of the Mooney Foundation

Our History

Process Artists prepare pieces for "Zagreb Light Lines" in Mooney Foundation studio, 1979

Process Artists gather on Navy Pier for the installation of "Light Space '77," 1977

For over 40 years, the John David Mooney Foundation has operated as a true laboratory -- one which combines the vision of the founding artist with the talent, energy and ambition of countless helping hands. The Mooney Foundation functions as a multidisciplinary workshop which not only produces the work of John David Mooney, but also exhibits international art, hosts educational events and engages with the Chicago community.

In the early 1970s, artist John David Mooney called upon an international team of physicists, engineers, and computer scientists to work in conjunction with other artists. The result was the "Visual Systems Research" Group, an innovative team that pushed the boundary between art and science, producing what proved to be the inaugural ventures of the John David Mooney Foundation.

At the same time, Mooney was beginning to work with artists, architects, and scientists who had completed their formal training and wished to study in a working studio. The dynamism of their exchanges inspired the cross-disciplinary nature of the Foundation's international Apprentice and Internship Program. By 1975, this program had developed into a trans-disciplinary venture dedicated to fulfilling the artist's responsibility to society. In 1981, the Foundation established the International Currents Gallery, an exhibition space created in order to bring the world's most innovative artists to the city of Chicago. These artists continue to offer Chicago extraordinary new glimpses into the creative process.


The Mooney Foundation has always functioned as a collaborative workshop, allowing visiting artists, Apprentices, Interns, volunteers and assistants opportunities to hone their skills, while contributing to the function of the Foundation as a whole. Their work has been instrumental in the fabrication and performance of many of John David Mooney's sculptural works, as well as key in programming exhibits, organizing events and building connections with the outside world. Today, we continue to welcome new talent in the hope that we can grow together and keep the Mooney Foundation a working laboratory which contributes to the City of Chicago and the world at large.

Construction of "Malta Millennium," 2000

Since its conception, all Foundation programs and exhibitions have been and continue to be free and fully accessible to the public. We accept, invite, and encourage all who wish to participate in our public art projects and to include them as Process Artists.

John David Mooney featured in Chicago Magazine, June, 1988

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