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WE ARE HERE: Honoring Women in the Center’s Collection

WE ARE HERE: Honoring Women in the Center’s Collection, features artworks made by several women artists in the Center’s collection.


This exhibition provides us an opportunity to think about the materiality of Black women’s art, while also expanding biographical and visual information on Black women artists. The curatorial project permits the center an opportunity to reflect on impactful key women artists who have shaped and inspired persons in our institution and beyond. The exhibit will not feature the works of every woman artist in the collection, instead it will focus on developing the biographical representations of several artists who are often obscured in favor of others, while also highlighting artists very well documented in the canon of Black Art like Dr. Margaret Burroughs and Barbara Jones Hogu.

Curated by SSCAC Archives and Collections Manager LaMar R. Gayles Jr



Margaret Taylor Burroughs

Espi Eph (Frazier)

Madeline Haydon

Yasmin Sabu




Espi Eph Espi (Eph) Frazier, is an artist who is initially from the Chicago Area but relocated to the Baltimore area in 1993, included here are a selection of her works from the Center’s collection ranging from wood graphics to a mixed media composition. In the 1980s Frazier created the wooden pieces featured here by partaking in a process of staining wood with ink drawn graphics and detailing those graphics by relief carving into the surfaces. A great deal of her work explores abstraction but some of it also explores representation of women figures especially Black women.


Dr. Margaret Taylor Burroughs is an internationally known artist and educator who is heavily connected to the historical foundations of both the South Side Community Art Center and DuSable Museum of African American History. Burroughs is well known for her work in printmaking and poetry, but was known to work in a plethora of media. Included here are several examples of her painting work coupled with a reproduction of possible prototype sketches she completed while in Mexico which might have served as inspiration for the two paintings.

 Yasmin Sabur is initially from Chicago and now works and lives out of California, her work consists of a range of themes from the environment, to visualizing how Black persons interact with their surroundings. In her exhibited piece titled Private Beach- Keep Out we see Sabur reference discrimination that occurred on Chicago beaches in the 20th century when Blacks weren’t allowed on many of the beaches in the city. Sabur renders the clearly Black figures in a popular expressionless monochromatic motif that is seen echoed throughout Black art in the 20th century which often is referencing issues or stigmas in private and or social life.

Madeline Haydon Born in Chicago and later relocating to Hawaii, exhibited in many spaces throughout her career, including the South Side Community Art Center. Haydon defined herself as a realist working with a heightened awareness for color. This proclivity for color is exemplified in the oil painting still life included here in the exhibition which consists mainly of warm toned objects overlaid on top of a green background moving from warm to cold hues.



How to visit The Center safely:

– Vaccine verification required for entry

– Beginning January 3, in accordance with City of Chicago policy, all visitors 5 and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination.

– Please bring either your vaccine card, a printed copy, or a digital photo of your card.

– Visitors 16 and older will need to provide identification that matches their vaccination record

– Masks will continue to be required by all visitors 2 and older while in the museum.

We continue to require all visitors, vaccinated or unvaccinated to wear masks that cover both your nose and mouth.


*image courtesy: Madeline Haydon (American artist, b. 1909) Still Life, 1967 Oil on canvas 20 1/8 x 16″. Collection of South Side Community Art Center


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.