Fogo Island Dialogues – The Complicated Conversation: Art, Business and Community

Wednesday, November 7
5:30-7:00 pm
The Arts Club of Chicago
Everyone welcome


During a lively panel discussion, four speakers will consider the dual systems of art and money, and the power and pitfalls present in both in shaping and rebuilding communities. The panel will be introduced by curator Monika Szewczyk and moderated by Bruce Heyman, former US Ambassador to Canada. Panelists include Zita Cobb, founder and CEO of Shorefast, whose mission is to expand the conversation around how business can engage in community to the benefit of both; Irena Haiduk, artist, author and founder of Yugoexport, an economy that takes form as a corporation modeled after the self-managed factories and experimental clubs of the former Yugoslavia; and artist Faheem Majeed, a South Shore resident who often looks to the material makeup of his neighbourhood and surrounding areas as an entry point into larger questions around civic-mindedness, community activism and institutional racism.

Fogo Island Dialogues is an interdisciplinary conversation series conceived by Fogo Island Arts that brings together leading artists, thinkers, professionals and researchers from a variety of disciplines to address issues of vital contemporary importance. Presented for the first time in the US, this edition is one of three North American Dialogues graciously supported by Vicki and Bruce Heyman that aim to highlight progressive ideas, social enterprise, and cultural and community building initiatives.

The following is a short video clip by Andreas Nicholas about the event and the Fogo Island Dialogues series. The complete recording of the event will be available on our website soon.


Zita Cobb is Founder and CEO of Shorefast, a registered Canadian charity with a mission to build economic and cultural resilience on Fogo Island. Growing up on Fogo Island, Cobb developed a deep belief in the inherent value of place and a profound respect for the human ways of knowing that emerge from respectful relationships with nature, culture, and community. After completing high school on Fogo Island, Cobb decided to study business in order to understand the global economic systems that had disadvantaged Fogo Island and numerous other small communities – bringing many to the brink of extinction. After completing university in Ottawa, she took on increasingly senior financial roles in the high-tech industry. She is most recognized for her work with JDS Fitel, subsequently JDS Uniphase, where she contributed to building the company into one of the most successful high-tech innovators in history. Cobb returned home to Fogo Island in the early 2000s and, along with her brothers Anthony and Alan, began to build Shorefast’s initiatives. In 2016, Zita was awarded the Order of Canada in acknowledgement of the work of Shorefast in collaboration with the community of Fogo Island to help secure a more resilient future for this singular rural place. She now dedicates her full time and energies to the active direction and management of Shorefast and its projects on Fogo Island.

Irena Haiduk is against biography.

Faheem Majeed is a builder—literally and metaphorically. A resident of the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago, Majeed often looks to the material makeup of his neighbourhood and surrounding areas as an entry point into larger questions around civic-mindedness, community activism, and institutional critique. As part of his studio practice, the artist transforms materials such as particle board, scrap metal and wood, and discarded signs and billboard remnants, breathing new life into these often overlooked and devalued materials. His broader engagement with the arts also involves arts administration, curation, and community facilitation, all which feed into his larger practice.

Majeed received his BFA from Howard University, Washington, D.C., and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant (2015) and a Harpo Foundation Awardee (2016). From 2005-2011, Majeed served as Executive Director and Curator for the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) and from 2013–2015 he served as the associate director and faculty of UIC’s School of Art and Art History. In 2015, he co-founded the “Floating Museum” which blends creative place-making, activism and exhibition design to creates temporary, site-responsive museum spaces to activate sites of cultural potential throughout Chicago’s neighbourhoods. Currently, Majeed is a full-time, practicing artist and creates work in his South Shore studio.


Ambassador (ret) Bruce Heyman is the co-founder of Uncharted, a values-driven family office that convenes and connects a diverse group of Americans and Canadians for impact. There, he combines his political, economic, and charitable experience to work on projects involving creative philanthropy, impact investing, storytelling, and political activism. Most recently, he served as the United States Ambassador to Canada under President Barack Obama from 2014 until 2017. He continues his work strengthening the relationship between Canada and the United States by serving as a strategic advisor to Canada 2020, a Canadian progressive think-tank based in Ottawa; as a member of the advisory board to the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center; and as an honorary patron to the Council of the Great Lakes Region. He is also on the advisory board for Uptake in Chicago.

Ambassador Heyman is a 33-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, where he served as partner and managing director in the Chicago office. He previously served as a board member for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Foundation. He also served as an advisor to the Fix the Debt CEO Council of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. He has been a member of The Executives’ Club of Chicago and the Facing History and Ourselves Chicago Advisory Board. A magna cum laude graduate with both a BA and an MBA from Vanderbilt University, Ambassador Heyman continues to maintain close ties to his alma mater. He is past president of the Alumni Board and a former member of the Board of Visitors at the University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. He and his wife Vicki live in Chicago, where they celebrate their family and friendships. They have three children and three beautiful grandchildren.


Monika Szewczyk has been Curator for documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel (2015-2017); Visual Arts Program Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago (2012-2014); Head of Publications at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam (2008–2011); Assistant Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2004–2007) and Program Coordinator of the Belkin Satellite, a downtown gallery of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at her alma mater, the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (2001-2003). She has lectured widely, advised and led seminars at Emily Carr University in Vancouver (2002-2007), Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam (2008-2012), Bergen Academy of Art and Design (2011), and the University of Chicago (2012-2014). Recent projects include Lala Meredith-Vula: Urtesi Sot e Mot (Wisdom today and forever) at the “Marubi” National Museum of Photography in Shkodër; the needle, the haystack, the thread, an exhibition for the Arts Club of Chicago with artists Aboubakar Fofana, Britta Marakatt-Labba, Lala Meredith-Vula and the late Maria Lai with a publication designed by David Khan-Giordano; as well as the 10th issue of the Athens-based magazine South as a State of Mind (Maintenance), which she guest-edited with founding director and editor-in-chief, Marina FokidisHer writings and interviews can be found in numerous artists’ publications, readers, catalogues and in journals such as Mousse Magazine, Artforum, Afterall and e-flux journal online. 

Image Credit: Squish Studio, Tilting, Fogo Island. Photo Bent René Synnevåg.