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Beyond The Wall

Join us for a conversation with Patricia Andrews-Keenan, Janelle Ayana Miller, and Alicia Goodwin moderated by Ciera Alyse McKissick !

This program is the first of a few conversations we’ll be hosting as part of our current show Just Above My Wall (To The Right), guest curated by Ciera Alyse McKissick. Just Above My Wall (To The Right), challenges misconceptions about collecting while also centering a diverse range of Black emerging and established art collectors here in Chicago, including works from our own collection.

Alicia, Janelle, and Patricia are not only collectors, but creative leaders in their own right. They each have very specific interests, concerns, and practices relating to why, what, and how they collect beyond their contributions to our current exhibit.

The art and practice of collecting goes well beyond the wall, but can be explored through unconventional spaces, family legacies, and traveling for example. We’re eager to learn what life experiences and influences have been impactful towards their journey as collectors, as well as how their path in the arts have expanded their understanding and re-definitions of collecting art, objects, and more.

image courtesy of Janelle Ayana Miller’s collection.



Patricia Andrews-Keenan is the founder of Pigment International, a multi-media arts collective redefining global arts, culture, and innovation. The organization is committed to creating new platforms for the advancement of the modern multi-cultural aesthetic in the visual arts, specifically the aesthetic represented by African descended artists. Pigment serves as a connector for emerging creators, collectors, curators, investors, and other stakeholders. It is a destination for art enthusiasts to experience customized and curated salons, events and exhibitions that spark dialogue and inspire those constituents. Pigment International is the publisher of Pigment Magazine, a publication highlighting Black artists, collectors, curators and all those that champion the Black Art aesthetic.

Andrews-Keenan also led the charge for the creation of Black Fine Art Month, first celebrated in October 2019. Black Fine Art Month is a global celebration of the Black Art aesthetic, an annual recognition of artists, innovators, collectors, curators and those vested in the Black Art tradition, and an opportunity to commemorate these contributions through art programming.

Andrews-Keenan’s background encompasses stints as a journalist, PR manager, government affairs director, communications and corporate affairs executive with media companies including Comcast, the Nielsen Company and AT&T.



Janelle Ayana Miller is a grandchild of the Great Migration, a Midwesterner with Southern inflection.

Her artistic practice is rooted within familial and communal aesthetics, looking deeply into bridging self and time as an act of place-making while using modes of collage, found objects, film, food, and photography.



Alicia Goodwin is a jeweler and artist based out of Chicago, Illinois.

A graduate of the metals program at SUNY’s Fashion Institute of Technology as well as a graduate of CUNY’s Hunter College, Alicia creates sculptural work inspired by nature, mourning jewelry of the Victorian era and ceremonial jewelry of the Mesoamericas.

She creates a majority of her work under her eponymous brand, Lingua Nigra, using the ancient techniques wax carving, as well as textural techniques such as reticulation and acid etching.

Her work can be found at select retailers and museum shops around the world.



Ciera Alyse McKissick is an independent writer, curator, cultural producer, and the founder of AMFM, an organization whose mission is to promote emerging artists.

She is also the coordinator of Public Programs at the Hyde Park Art Center, and Communications Associate at Ox-Bow School of Art. She created AMFM, originally a web magazine, as an independent study project in 2009 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied Journalism and Mass Communications.

Her work since then often involves collaboration through supporting Black and brown artists, local arts organizations, and seeks to stimulate community engagement that’s driven by inclusivity, accessibility, intention, and care.




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.