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ReSource Symposium: Art and Resourcefulness in Black Chicago

October 7, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

This convening will help shape the research questions, thematic structures, and community connections for the South Side Community Art Center’s “ReSOURCE” exhibition, scheduled for 2024 as part of the Terra Foundation’s Art Design Chicago program. 


This symposium brings together artists and academics, agricultural practitioners and community organizers, to learn from one another’s ideas and practices. A private portion of the symposium will allow participants to convene in a smaller group to discuss plans for the exhibition and associated programming with the goal of ensuring the project is shaped by input from people representing a range of community organizations as well as artists, curators, and researchers.

The exhibition, scheduled for 2024 explores the historical and contemporary resourcefulness of African American artists and cultural creators in Chicago who form a tradition of creative genius that “makes do,” recycling materials, repurposing skills, and building on personal and community resources. 

The public symposium on October 7 will take place on zoom and will include panel discussions with scholars, urban gardening community leaders, and artists, followed by a private session on Saturday the 8th. 

All panels will take place virtually via Zoom CDT. For more information regarding the public symposium, please see the full site here







Co-Founder & CEO of Urban Growers Collective | Speaker and Advisor


Erika Allen (she/her) is the Co-Founder & CEO of Programs and Development Strategy for Urban Growers Collective and the President of Green ERA Educational NFP and Co-Owner of Green Era Sustainability Partners.


Erika has been appointed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for the IL Leadership Council for Agricultural Education (ICAE) for a 3 Year term (2022-2024). Allen was recently appointed by the Biden Administration to join the Farm Service Agency Committee for Illinois. She was awarded the 2022 James Beard Leadership award.

Erika received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MA in Art Psychotherapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She uses her experience as a visual artist to consult with individuals and organizations to support their visioning of social and economic changes. She is passionate about social justice and working with multicultural groups in the elimination of racism, related oppressions, and the root causes of poverty by integrating creative and therapeutic techniques alongside food security and community development.


MEKAZIN ALEXANDER Founder of Earl’s Garden Mae’s Kitchen | Speaker and Advisor


Over the past 20 plus years Earline “Mekazin” Alexander has been committed to ensuring that underserved residents in the City of Chicago receive equitable services to improve the quality of their lives and promote their wellbeing. She has worked in a variety of capacities serving children, youth, adults, and seniors, and the developmentally disabled and states that “the challenge is making sure you always have a continuum of service and to make certain that you are doing what is necessary to take people to the next level while addressing their critical needs.”

Earl’s Garden Mae’s Kitchen community garden evolved to create a safe space where all generations in the Englewood community and its surrounding areas could have a place to just be. Be involved with food education and healthy eating, artistic expressions, community events. Earline Alexander believes “creativity creates a balance in life” and she foresees Earl’s Garden Mae’s Kitchen being a part of that balance.



Director of Development at SkyART | Advisor


Basia has worked with various non-profit organizations throughout Illinois including Springfield Urban League, Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Chicago Housing Authority in a variety of roles ranging from development, case management, program administration and more. She began serving the community through an artistic lens during her collegiate career providing Art Therapy sessions to cancer patients and their families at Decatur Memorial Hospital in Decatur, IL.

After completing her BA in Human Services form Millikin University she took on the challenge of connecting others to communities in need which led to becoming the Director of Development for Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park. After receiving her certification in Nonprofit Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago extended campus and two years of service to northern Chicago, she joined SkyART as the Assistant Director of Development in January 2020 and later promoted to Director of Development in July 2021.




PhD Student, Northwestern University | Panel Moderator


Ashleigh Deosaran (b.1992, Trinidad and Tobago, she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist and scholar. She is currently a doctoral student in Art History and a Gender and Sexuality Studies Mellon Fellow at Northwestern University. She researches modern and contemporary art with a focus on the Anglophone Caribbean, through the lenses of queer theory, cultural studies, and postcolonial thought. After earning a B.A. in Fine Arts & Psychology from Pace University (’16), she completed an M.A. in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies at Columbia University (’19). She has held curatorial research positions at the Dia Art Foundation and the Public Art Fund in New York City.

Most recently, she co-curated a video program for Alice Yard’s presentation at documenta fifteen and was awarded the Block Museum Curatorial Fellowship (’22-’23). Her critical writing has been published in Hemisphere: Visual Cultures of the Americas, Field Magazine, and Pree Literary Magazine.



Black feminist ecocritic and assistant professor of African American Literature and Culture at Cornell University | Speaker and Advisor


Chelsea Mikael Frazier, PhD is a Black feminist ecocritic—writing, researching, and teaching at the intersection of Black feminist theory and environmental thought. Across a diverse array of platforms, all of Dr. Frazier’s work is geared toward creating paths toward harmonial Worlds that no longer rely on the harm of Black people, the destruction of our environment, or the exploitation of femininity to keep spinning.

In 2019, she founded Ask An Amazon, an educational hub where she designs educational tools, curates community gatherings, gives lectures, and provides consulting services meant to help students, professionals, and organizations with their intellectual and creative development. Dr. Frazier is an assistant professor of African American Literature and Culture at Cornell University’s Department of Literatures in English.

Dr. Frazier is currently at work on her first book manuscript, a years-long ecocritical investigation of contemporary Black women artists, writers, and activists. Frazier illuminates the cultural histories and creative contributions of Black women who’ve carved-out a rich and transformative practice of ecological ethics alternative to the “environmentalisms” that are readily legible in Western society.



Chicago Visual Artist and Water Rights Activist | Speaker and Advisor


Candace Hunter is a self-sustaining visual artist residing in Chicago and calling the world home. Her touring solo shows, DUST IN THEIR VEINS: a Visual Response to the Global Water Crisis, HOODED TRUTHS, and SO BE IT. SEE TO IT. have enjoyed robust viewings in multiple cities. Her multi-disciplined work, LOSS/SCAPE, the Landscape of Loss, examined the major loss of human capitol on the Western shores of Africa during the TransAtlantic Slave Trade.

Hunter is a proud recipient of the 3Arts NEXT LEVEL/SPARE ROOM Award (2021), the Tim and Helen Meier Family Foundation Grantee 2020 and honored by the collective, Diasporal Rhythm’s (2014/15).



Multi-disciplinary artist and Community Organizer | Speaker and Advisor


Seitu Ken Jones is a multidisciplinary artist, advocate and maker based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Working between the arts and public spheres, Jones channels the spirit of radical social movements into experiences that foster critical conversations and nurture more just and vibrant communities from the soil up. He is recognized as a dynamic collaborator and a creative force for civic engagement.

Jones is a recently retired faculty member of Goddard College in Washington State. He holds a BS degree in Landscape Design and a MLS in Environmental History from the University of Minnesota. He’s been a Senior Fellow in Agricultural Systems in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Science Resources at the University of Minnesota and is a member of the board of managers for the Capitol Region Watershed District.



PhD Student, Northwestern University | Panel Moderator


Alexandrea Keith is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of History at Northwestern University. She studies 20th century Black cultural politics and history in the United States, United Kingdom, and English-speaking Caribbean. Her research interests include Black arts activism, Black Power, and racial liberation politics. She is particularly interested in how Black women across the Atlantic have used theater as a form of cultural politics and activism.

In addition to her scholarship, Alexandrea serves as the Graduate Student Advisor for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship at Northwestern where she supports undergraduates students of color interested in pursuing careers in academia. Prior to attending graduate school, she graduated magna cum laude with majors in History and African and African American Studies from Dartmouth College in 2020.




Chicago Visual Artist and Co-founder of the Floating Museum | Speaker and Advisor


Faheem Majeed (American, b. 1976) is an artist, educator, curator, and community facilitator. Through his unique experience, he creates works focusing on institutional critique and meaningful community dialogues. As part of his studio practice, Majeed transforms materials such as particle board, scrap metal and wood, discarded signs, and billboard remnants, breathing new life into these often overlooked and devalued materials.

From 2007-2011 Majeed was the former executive director of the South Side Community Art Center. Currently, he is the co-director and founder of the Chicago based arts collective, Floating Museum.


Majeed is a recipient of the 2020 Field and Macarthur Foundation’s Leaders for a New Chicago Award and the 2020 Joyce Foundation Award. His work has been exhibited in numerous institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, SMFA at Tufts, and the Hyde Park Art Center. Majeed received his BFA from Howard University and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.



PhD Candidate, Northwestern University | Panel Moderator

Gervais Marsh is a writer, scholar and curator whose work is deeply invested in Black life, concepts of relationality and care. Their writing, artistic and curatorial work is rooted in Transnational Black feminist theory and praxis. They are a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and their dissertation explores the generative possibilities of difficult intimacies through the work of several Black queer visual and performance artists. Their writing has been published in ARTS.BLACK, Musée Magazine, Sixty Inches from Center, Sugarcane Magazine and PREE: Caribbean Writing, among others.

They are an editor with Ruckus Journal and recent curatorial projects include Heather Brammeier’s Maybe Never and A.J. McClenon’s Notes from VEGA, both at the Hyde Park Art Center. They grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, a home that continues to shape their understanding of self and relationship to the world.



Artistic and Managing Director of Honey Pot Performance | Speaker and Advisor


Meida Teresa McNeal works with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events’ Executive Administration team as the Senior Manager of Arts & Community Impact Investments building and implementing artist recovery programs and creative placemaking grantmaking initiatives.

Prior to this role, Meida worked with the Chicago Park District as Arts & Culture Manager supporting community arts partnerships, youth arts, cultural stewardship, and civic engagement initiatives. Projects included cultural planning projects from neighborhood cultural center activations and citywide asset mapping, and a cultural stewardship training program focused on neighborhood resource development through the lens of arts & culture in communities.

Meida is also Artistic and Managing Director of Honey Pot Performance. She received her PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and her MFA in Choreography & Dance History from Ohio State University. She has produced numerous creative projects as both a solo artist and with Honey Pot Performance, performing in Illinois, Rhode Island, Ohio, California, and Trinidad.



Executive Director of Bronzeville Neighborhood Farm | Advisor


“Rosalyn Owens” is Director-In Training for the Bronzeville Neighborhood Farm. After the unfortunate death of her husband, Johnnie L. Owens, Jr., she immediately without much thought about what she was doing, made the decision to continue her husband’s work at the garden in Bronzeville feeling that he would want her to continue his legacy.

Rosalyn left corporate after working for: AT&T, CHA and, Arthur Andersen to pursue an education career. Obtaining her graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction, she found her true calling; helping students attain knowledge. Roz has taught students from pre- kindergarten through adult. Her philosophy is founded on the premise that all students deserve a good education from an educator who is passionate about their students learning.

She’s excited about the work ahead and, is determined to continue Johnnie’s work in Bronzeville as a place for folks to gather, enjoy nature and exchange ideas amongst each other.




Co-Founder, First Nations Garden | Speaker and Advisor


An advocate for social and environmental justice, Fawn is the co-founder of the First Nations Garden located in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. Fawn has over a decade of community organizing and advocacy experience focusing on raising awareness of Native Peoples living in Chicago with the goal of contributing to the personal sovereignty, healing, and educational pursuits of Native youth. Fawn has worked closely with communities across the city to incorporate land-based pedagogies and Indigenous worldview into curricula and policy while developing and implementing innovative community programming through an Indigenous lens focused on the preservation of native plants, heritage foods and dismantling systems of white supremacy.

In her free time Fawn prides herself on being an Auntie to an autonomous grassroots collaborative, Chi-Nations Youth Council, whose mission is to create safe space for Native Youth through Arts, Activism and Education.



Frontloading Structure & Culture Coordinator with Sunrise Movement Chicago | Advisor


Dejah (she/her) is an organizer based in Chicago, with Sunrise Movement, a youth-led movement to stop the climate crisis and create millions of good jobs. Dejah has a fierce commitment to building a multi-racial, cross-class movement that will win Green New Deal legislation federally and locally. During her time in Sunrise, Dejah was a volunteer in the Chicago hub, leading in fundraising and trainings. She started full-time, as a Regional Organizer and Lead Organizer, providing coaching and organizing support for Sunrise hubs around trainings, electoral organizing, and actions across the Midwest. She’s also led several organizing programs, including a 2020 BIPOC Organizing School, training black and brown youth in key skills to win a Green New Deal.

When Dejah’s not cooking up plans to grow the movement and build power to win a Green New Deal, she enjoys reading, roller skating, and meditation. Dejah is a 2018 graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Environmental and Sustainability Science.



Farm, Food, Familias Coordinator at LVEJO, Founder of Getting Grown Collective | Speaker and Advisor


Taryn is a farmer, learner-teacher and connector. Born and raised on the southside of Chicago, Taryn is committed to connecting Black and Brown people with the land, each other and practices that train present and future generations to survive the unexpected.


Taryn began growing with the land in 2017 through co-founding Getting Grown Collective(GGC) with family, friends and neighbors on 63rd & Morgan in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Currently Taryn is a Farm, Food, Familias Program Coordinator with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization(LVEJO) and a Farm Liaison for Grow Greater Englewood(GGE)


Executive Director, Grow Greater Englewood | Speaker and Advisor


L. Anton Seals Jr. is a South Shore Chicago, IL native. Seals is a multidimensional servant leader, organizer, entrepreneur, educator, community connector and impact producer. Anton is currently the Lead Steward/Executive Director of Grow Greater Englewood (GGE). Transforming vacant city lots into farm businesses, via a network of Black and brown urban farmers, GGE is a social enterprise focusing on building an equitable and resilient local food system, fostering protections of vacant land in divested communities, and connecting those residents with community wealth building opportunities. Seals focuses on authentic “equity in action” and also works in the arts and cultural space, producing campaigns for nationally broadcasted documentaries.

In 2019 Seals founded OURS, a vertical Cannabis and Hemp company. Anton is a 2018 Next City Vanguard Fellow and 2010 German Marshall Fellow. Seals serves as a Trustee for the Woods Fund of Chicago and is Chair of the South Shore Works Planning Preservation Coalition.



Associate Professor in African American Studies and Geography at Arizona State University | Speaker and Advisor


Rashad Shabazz’s academic expertise brings together human geography, cultural studies, gender studies, and critical race studies. His research explores how race, gender, and cultural production are informed by geography. His most recent work, Spatializing Blackness,(University of Illinois Press, 2015) examines how carceral power within the geographies of Black Chicagoans shaped urban planning, housing policy, policing practices, gang formation, high incarceration rates, masculinity, and health.

Professor Shabazz’s scholarship has appeared in the journals Souls, The Spatial-Justice Journal, ACME, Gender, Place and Culture, Cultural Geography, Occasions, and Places. In addition, Shabazz has also published several book chapters and book reviews. Professor Shabazz’s scholarship is also public facing. He has also appeared on local, national, and international news programs such as the BBC, Time Magazine, and 20/20. He is currently working on a book that uncovers the development of the Minneapolis music scene from its beginning in the mid-19th century to the release of Prince’s magnum opus, Sign O’ The Times, in 1987. Professor Shabazz received his Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness from the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2008.



Visual artist and Educator | Advisor


Tamara Becerra Valdez is an artist and educator who works at the intersection of archives, oral histories, material studies, and ecology. She has participated in national and international multi-disciplinary projects focused on art, preservation, and ecology, including: Tender House Project, City of Chicago Park District, Political Ecology: Platform Chicago, Whole Life Academy, and The Anthropocene Campus with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

She has held residencies at ACRE and BOLT Residency at the Chicago Artists Coalition. In 2021, she was awarded a 3Arts Make A Wave grant. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and BFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Tamara is also a gardener, seed saver, and collective member at El Paseo Community Garden in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.



October 7, 2022
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
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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.