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An Unapologetic Dream: A MLK Celebration

January 17 @ 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Hyde Park Art Center in collaboration with South Side Community Art Center and Arts + Public Life, presents a free virtual screening of Unapologetic by Chicago filmmaker Ashley O”Shay, a film told through the lens of Janaé Bonsu and Bella Bahhs, two fierce abolitionist leaders, that gives a deep look into the Movement for Black Lives, from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of mayor Lori Lightfoot.

 

Opening the program will also be an excerpt from Hyde Park Art Center’s Center Program Artist, Cathleen Campbell’s documentary, Martin Luther King’s Unsung Heros in Chicago, shorts from The Black Archive Project: Chicago Uprisings 2020 by local independent filmmaker and documentarian, Resita Cox, and a poetry reading from Leslé Honore, an AfroLatina poet, artivist, and author of Fist & Fire, a collection of powerful, unflinching poems that confront issues of social justice through the lens of real human lives and voices.

The poetry and films will be followed by a discussion with filmmakers Ashley O’Shay, Resita Cox, and Cathleen Campbell, and activists Bella Bahhs and Janaé Bonsu.

Thank you to our promotional partner the Multicultural Affairs Department at the School of the Art Institute. And special thanks to The Jentes Family Foundation for supporting our Public Programs at the Hyde Park Art Center. 

 

*still image courtesy of Ashley O’shay. Unapologetic (2020).

Details

Date:
January 17
Time:
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:

MIXED MEDIA AND STILL LIFE

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.