EXPO Chicago
Natural woman: artist Jenny Kendler.
Clayton Hauck/Chicago Reader

Splashy art fairs like EXPO Chicago are all about the scene--expect plenty of hobnobbing, big spending and name-dropping at Navy Pier this weekend.

But while you?re there, check out these three exhibits with a do-gooder mission.

???Tell It to the Birds,? Natural Resources Defense Council Chicago artist Jenny Kendler?s sculptures look at the relationship between humans and the natural world. Duck inside her exhibit, a dark, cave-like dome covered with delicate birds, where you?re supposed to confess something to nature. Speak up and special audio software will translate your words into birdsong.
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?Shaq Loves People,? The Flag Art Foundation NBA legend Shaquille O?Neal moonlights as curator for this exhibit of portraits of people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. The show marks the New York gallery?s first contemporary art fair. Its mission? To encourage diversity in art appreciation. ??

?Teach Us to Outgrow Madness,? Human Rights Watch Local gallery Rhona Hoffman is partnering with the human rights organization to show a film by activist, artist, filmmaker and architect Alfredo Jaar. We live in a complicated world, but the film?s message is simple: Each generation should learn from those who came before.??

EXPO Chicago runs September 18 to 21 in Navy Pier?s Festival Hall, 600 E. Grand Ave.; expochicago.com; buy one-day passes ($20) and three-day passes ($30) here

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