June 8-September 3
Charles White, born and educated in Chicago, was one of the preeminent artists to emerge during the city’s Black Renaissance of the 1930s and 1940s. A passionate mural and easel painter and superbly gifted draftsman, White powerfully interpreted African American history, culture, and lives in striking works that nevertheless have a more universal resonance.
This exhibition examines how White explored social and political themes ranging from the ongoing fight for freedom and equality to the dignity and struggles of labor. Throughout his career, he pushed against the boundaries of his media and the figurative tradition in American art.
As an artist, White’s mastery of mediums intersected with social activism, engaging the past and present with an eye toward the future. He defined his essential quest as the discovery of truth, beauty, and dignity of life and people while using an expressive and highly accessible realism. He often drew from history to illuminate inequities contemporary to his time, as Oehler describes in the forthcoming catalogue for the exhibition, “Not content merely to be mindful of the past, White made it his most important artistic theme… He returned to the past again and again for aesthetic inspiration, explicitly harnessing his creative energies to educate his fellow citizens and promote social equality by producing and displaying inspiring images of historical figures.”
Presented in the 100th anniversary year of the artist’s birth, this exhibition marks the most comprehensive presentation of White’s work since 1982 and unites a selection of his finest paintings, drawings, and prints. This includes fourteen works owned by the Art Institute, drawn in part from the group of forty-three prints by White recently acquired by the Art Institute, of which five were offered as gifts by the artist’s son. This breathtaking collection of White’s prints begins with his work in Mexico during the late–1940s, up through his last published lithograph and his most powerful etchings. Organized chronologically, the exhibition examines the development of White’s practice, from his emergence as a force in the Chicago art world through his mature career as an artist, activist, and educator in New York and Los Angeles. The exhibition deepens understanding of White’s artistic oeuvre, looking in particular at his output through the lens of Chicago’s unique cultural and artistic communities and the city’s broader contributions to American art history. Together, the featured works speak to White’s universal appeal and continued relevance to audiences today.
The Art Institute of Chicago 112 S Michigan
The MCA presents a major survey of the work of groundbreaking, multidisciplinary artist Howardena Pindell (American, b. 1943). The exhibition spans the New York –based artist’s five-decades-long career, featuring early #figurative paintings, pure #abstraction and conceptual works, and personal and political art.
The exhibition is cocurated by Naomi Beckwith (MCA) and Frances Lewis (VMFA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts)
May 11, 2018 - Aug 19, 2018
Amy Sherald paints staged narratives and constructed identities, creating portraits of African Americans—most of whom she meets during the course of her day. She deftly represents the features of each sitter with the masterful draughtsmanship of American realism. But she decorates her subjects with fantastical props and costumes: brightly colored pin-striped suits, multi-scooped ice-cream cones, rabbits in hats, giant coffee cups, and cotton candy. A lush, color-field backdrop serves as setting. An obvious care is taken with each portrait: how a prop is chosen, how it is held, the style and fit of clothing, the contrast or complement of colors, the choice of backdrop, or void, with the color intensity of a candied fantasy, and the expression and gesture of the figure. The artist has talked about her artmaking as an act to “image the versions of ourselves that thrive when extricated from the dominant historical narrative.” Her work lends truth and reality to history. “My paintings hold up a mirror to the present and reflect real experiences of blackness today and historically,” she says, “in everyday life and within the historical art canon.”
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Boulevard
A Tender Power: Black Womanist Visual Manifesto
works by Kimberly M. Harmon and Tracie D. Hall
March 16 , 2018
"Black women have a several lifetime’s legacy of holding space for others, even while their own spaces are encroached upon.
This show is a call for reciprocity."
— Tracie D. Hall, exhibition curator and founder of Rootwork Gallery
Rootwork Gallery, 645 W 18th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616
Friday, May 12 at 7:30 - 9 PM
Join the Block Museum at Northwestern University for a shorts program featuring Patrick Bresnan and Ivette Lucas’ The Send-Off (2016, 12 min.), The Rabbit Hunt (2017, 12 min.) and Roadside Attraction (2017, 10 min.), Rachel Pikelny’s Grace (2017, 16 min.), and Milad Mozari’s Standing Nymph and Man (2017, 17 min.)
Q&A with filmmakers after the screening
This film series, in partnership with Northwestern University MFA in Documentary Media program, highlights two feature films and five new short films in the hybrid-documentary genre, which mixes nonfiction with traditional fiction filmmaking. All filmmakers will be in attendance to discuss their work.
Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Dr, Evanston, Illinois 60208
February 6, 2018 – June 2, 2018
Self-taught Milwaukee artist Della Wells is a visual storyteller. Fascinated by myths and fairy tales with hidden meanings, Wells creates layered images from found objects. Her Stories, My Dreams showcases a selection of Wells’ colorful assemblages, drawings, and hand-made dolls inspired by personal narratives, political struggles, and imaginary tales. Combining her interest in African American history, gender studies, and theology, Wells employs potent symbolism to give voice to contemporary issues of race and gender.
Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) · 820 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
Mar 31–Sep 9, 2018
Nkanga is fascinated with what she has referred to as “glimmer” and “shine,” the surface qualities of natural resources such as mica, a mineral that is used in makeup and turned into an object of seduction. This interest has led the artist far and wide, studying the intense mining of the world’s natural resources since the rise of late capitalism. One of the primary means by which the artist’s interest manifests is through the body. In Nkanga’s works on paper and her tapestries, the body becomes a border implicated within the field of mining.
Nkanga acts as a cultural anthropologist—tracing the violent means by which contested minerals and objects are exhumed from their natural environments, such as Nigeria and Namibia—and considers how they are transported to the West. Through her work, the artist re-imagines our relationship to our everyday environment.
Otobong Nkanga’s first ever US survey exhibition, To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again, takes its name from the “Green Hill” in Namibia. The name is a direct translation of the town that houses it, Tsumeb, one of Namibia's "rare gems."
The exhibition is organized by Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. It is presented in the Bergman Family Gallery on the museum’s second floor.
MCA, 200 E Chicago Ave
April 14- August 5, 2018
Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America explores fifty years of print advertising targeted towards African-Americans—from 1968, a year of heightened social and political protest that saw the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., until 2008, the year of the election of the first African American president. Thomas digitally stripped these advertisements of all text, including product names and slogans, allowing the impact of their images to be felt more acutely.
Unbranded: A Century of White Women 1915-2015 ends with the year in which Thomas finished working on the series, and stretches back to five years before American women gained the right to vote. Like Reflections in Black, the advertising images that are featured in A Century of White Women are stripped of text, heightening our awareness of how we read them as assertions about beauty, desire, virtue, and ideal white femininity.
Seen together, the works in these two series offer a unique opportunity to explore the ways in which Thomas interrogates images across subject matter and allows for a complex and nuanced contemplation of the interrelated construction of narratives about race, gender, and class through the vehicle of advertising. By honing in on print advertising, especially drawn from magazines, Thomas also provides an opportunity to reflect on the important role magazines played as a primary form of mass communication during the 20th century.
About the Artist:
Hank Willis Thomas earned his BFA in photography and Africana studies from New York University in 1998 and MFA in photography/ MA in visual criticism from California College of Arts, San Francisco in 2004. He is a 2017 recipient of the Open Society Foundations’ Soros Equality Fellowship awarded to practitioners from a variety of fields to support work that advances racial justice. He has been a W.E.B. DuBois Institute Resident Fellow at Harvard University, and has received awards and residencies from John Hopkins University, Headlands and Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris among others.
Hank Willis Thomas: Unbranded is curated by Janet Dees, Steven and Lisa Munster Tananbaum Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, with assistance from Tamar Kharatishvili, 2017-18 Block Graduate Curatorial Fellow. Funding for this exhibition has been provided by the David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Program.
The Theatre School- DePaul University, 2350 North Racine Avenue
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of the most promising talents in Nigerian and English-speaking literature in general. At 40, the writer has two essays and three novels (in Italy all by Einaudi) that have won several awards, including the "Commonwealth Writers'" and the "National Book Critics Award", and have appeared in the list of the best books selected by the New York Times. Perhaps more than for his writings, however, Adichie is known for his militant activism. "Narrating is always a gesture of activism," says the author, born in a university town in southern Nigeria. "In his own way, Proust was an activist of love". The question that turns on, however, Adichie is gender disparity. Her essay "We Should All Be Feminists" gave her planetary notoriety, to the point of being distributed in all Swedish high schools, and recently published a text titled "Feminist Manifesto in 15 Tips". According to the author, her merit has not been expressed new anti-sexist concepts. Rather than having done it in a simple and accessible way, even exploiting mass mediums like video
through Jul 21, 2018
An Influencer Among Artists, Adrian Piper Gets a Retrospective at MoMA
An Adrian Piper retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York shows an artist years ahead of the zeitgeist.
In 1996 Adrian Piper wrote, “It seemed that the more clearly and abstractly I learned to think, the more clearly I was able to hear my gut telling me what I needed to do, and the more pressing it became to do it.” Since the 1960s, this uncompromising artist and philosopher has explored the potential of Conceptual art—work in which the concepts behind the art takes precedence over the physical object—to challenge our assumptions about the social structures that shape the world around us. Often drawing from her personal and professional experiences, Piper’s influential work has directly addressed gender, race, xenophobia, and, more recently, social engagement and self-transcendence.
Bringing together over 290 works, including drawings, paintings, photographs, multimedia installations, videos, and performances, the exhibition offers a rare opportunity to experience her provocative and wide-ranging artwork. Occupying the Museum’s entire sixth floor and the Marron Atrium, Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions 1965–2016 charts the artist’s five-decade career, including early paintings inspired by the use of LSD; key projects such as Mythic Being (1973), in which Piper has merged her male alter ego with entries from her teenage journals; My Calling (Card) #1 and My Calling (Card) #2 (1986), business card–sized, text-based works that confront the reader’s own racist or sexist tendencies; and What It’s Like, What It Is #3 (1991), a large-scale mixed-media installation addressing racist stereotypes, which will be shown in the Marron Atrium.
February 6, 2018 – June 2, 2018
Activist-artist Tonika Lewis Johnson’s visually stunning photographs document daily life in Englewood. Johnson tenderly challenges the sensationalized, damage-centered narrative of the Chicago South Side neighborhood in which she was raised. Her images celebrate the resilience of urban Black culture in Englewood by portraying levity, triumph, joy and normalcy. In December, Johnson was named one of Chicago Magazine’s 2017 Chicagoans of the Year.