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A day celebrating Black artists and your hard work throughout the year! We’ll also be joined by artist Cory Perry for a special performance.


The South Side Community Art Center has hosted innovative, ground-breaking, and forward exhibitions and programs throughout 2023, which would not have been possible without the array of Black ingenuity and talent from the artists we’ve been incredibly grateful to work with!


Join us for our first annual Black Artist Reception, celebrating the amazing artists we’ve supported and collaborated with over the year! We’re thrilled to kick off this program with a performance by current exhibiting artist Cory Perry, an Artist Talk moderated by current exhibitions curators Gervais Marsh and Rikki Byrd, with artists Cory Perry and Nnaemeka Ekwelum, followed by a reception with light bites and bubbly! 🥂


Current exhibiting artist Cory Perry will perform: how my Mother cried when her flowers bloomed.


This performance is an ode to resilience, an embrace of memories, and a testament to the enduring spirit that emerges from the confluence of grief and celebration. Black Artist Reception attendees are invited to watch the performance, which will be screened from our Burroughs Gallery, SSCAC’s Instagram Live.

One meaning of a procession is “continuous forward movement.” Another definition is “a ceremonial or funeral procession.”

I’m captivated by how these two, forward movement and death, are intertwined and what can be gleaned. “how my Mother cried when her flowers bloomed” is a participatory art performance/procession that symbolizes living with grief and celebrating life while in the mundane world. I don’t believe that grief is ‘baggage’ we carry along, rather, it looks like an intangible companion that moves with us through life. Grief, as a queer physician, prompts introspection by asking “how can we navigate these physical and mental spaces without the people closest to us?”


The performance will begin at the artist’s dwelling place in Chicago, serving as a symbolic starting point. From there, it unfolds as a procession to The Southside Community Art Center gallery space, inviting the audience to journey alongside the artist through the intricacies of sorrow and celebration. This performance piece delves into the intricate layers of queer grief, highlighting the mundane spaces it appears, inviting the audience to explore the diverse facets of grief within the LGBTQ+ community and the methods of transcending its barriers.

Grief is not something to overcome but a companion to embrace throughout our life. It helps us navigate the delicate balance between mourning the loss and cherishing the legacy of departed loved ones as motivation to keep moving forward.


Following the performance, curators Rikki Byrd and Gervais Marsh will moderate an artist talk with current exhibiting artists Nnaemeka C. Ekwelum and Cory Perry regarding their exhibitions Through A Lens of Beauty and Wonderment: Notes on Collaborative Friendship & All of Living is Risk.


Works in EMERGENCE are diverse in their subject matter and media, but a few themes reappear throughout. Working in abstraction or in the traditionally peaceful genre of still life, artists like William Carter, Allen Stringfellow, and Jonathan Green express themes of interiority or sociability, history or modernity. Notably, Stringfellow and Ralph Arnold both experimented with media and materials and worked extensively in collage, which allowed them to combine abstract design, figurative imagery, and on occasion political ideas.

Viewers typically expect Black artists to focus on particular aspects of their social and political identities within their work. Where might those expectations come from? Still life, abstraction, and collage may express many different things about artists’ interior lives and their visual and social observation, whether connected to public manifestations of identity or not.

William Carter’s mid-century still life Untitled presents a group of vibrantly colored bottles that invite the viewer’s gaze, set against a similarly colorful background with floral elements like grapes and leaves. They give evidence of conviviality and might be interpreted as symbols of social gatherings, but they could also just be a collection of pleasing forms. We might put Carter’s still life in dialogue with that of Jonathan Green, who became close friends with Carter while living in Chicago. Green’s close-up view of an eloquently simple composition presents oranges, a pear, and a lemon in front of two vessels. Works like this piece call the viewer to examine the objects the artist chose to include, to consider how they interact with each other like bodies in space, and to reflect on their meaning within the traditional genre of still life painting.

Collage might suggest the piecing together of identity from different components that might not usually coexist, giving room for more expansive imaginations of meaning than a straightforward representational image might allow. It could also just be an inventive way of combining colors, shapes, and textures. Allen Stringfellow’s Untitled, a collage from 1962, brings familiar motifs from still life—fruit and flowers, desserts and glassware—together with imagery of artist’s models and performers. Layered with paint and tissue paper that frustrate the viewer’s attempt to get clarity on the subject matter, the bursts of form and colors hint at the splashy abstraction of Stringfellow’s untitled, textured painting made from house paint and particulate on cardboard. Here the artist tests commonly found materials to create new textures and plays with the creation of colors and finishes that diverge from “Western” academic painting methods.

In The Waiting, Arnold constructs a large collage from different paper components, lace, and paint. In the piece, elements of European and African art are placed in dialogue with one another, while some figures appear alone and isolated, others in large groups. Without giving easy answers, Arnold implies questions about social issues. Who is waiting, and for what? In his Love Sign II, which bears the words “Love is Universal,” Arnold asserts the equal validity of all types of romantic affection and love, utilizing collage to convey a more straightforward political message.