The Balm: Art for Black Women’s Wellness

  The Southside Community Art Center is proud to host a group exhibition that exclusively highlights Black women artists, and there’s never been a more pertinent time to do so. The Balm: Art for Black Women’s Wellness emerged as a collective artists’ action. Eight women who engage the time-honored tradition of using their artistic practice […]


THE UNDERWORLD: George Crump articulates a collective, yet intimate expression of his mind’s eye through a body of work that makes social statements regarding life experiences, both subjective and observational.   In his most recent body of work, Crump situates his conceptions of “the underworld” by way of the psychological and social afterlives of oppression, with a tone of the spiritual, often positioning his figures between reality and surrealism. Crump applies […]

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 […]

EMERGENCE: Intersections at The Center

OPENING RECEPTION:   APRIL 15, 6-8PM     EMERGENCE: Intersections at the Center spotlights The South Side Community Art Center’s historical role in supporting a full spectrum of Black artists through an intersectional viewpoint. The first exhibition of its kind at the South Side Community Art Center, EMERGENCE positions the Center as an important anchor for […]

…of the land: acts of refusal and ratification

A three-person exhibition featuring new and recent works from Chicago-based artists Ajmal ‘Mas Man’ Millar, Lola Ayisha Ogbara, and R. Treshawn Williamson exploring homeplace through sculpture, self-imaging, & materialism.    R. Treshawn Williamson. Charcoal rubbing, screen printed debris, White Oak, Etched plaque. Left half. 15 x 20. 2021.   …of the land: acts of refusal […]

9 Artists/ 9 Months/ 9 Perspectives

9 Artists/ 9 Months/ 9 Perspectives features work by the collective, Dandelion Black Women Artists.   OPENING RECEPTION RSVP HERE   Nine Black women artists engaged in collaborative efforts to create artworks that transcend and transform events in the year 2020. In their eyes, art-making became a transgressive act through activism, documentation and vision. Utilizing […]

The Promised Land: Opening Reception

Eleven artists with ties to North and South of the Mason-Dixon Line respond to just how much Black life has always been in transit.      The Great Migration was one of the largest movements of people in United States history. It has transformed cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York and Pittsburgh between 1916 and […]

“where the light corrupts your face…” | Opening Reception

Artists Andres L. Hernandez, Tonika Lewis Johnson and Roland Knowlden consider the many definitions of space, site, and home.     Spatial griots Andres L. Hernandez, Tonika Lewis Johnson and Roland Knowlden invite you to consider how socio-economic and geographic oppressions impact the way we see (or don’t see) our environments. Hernandez uncovers embedded histories and […]

Black Light Cinema Project and Homecoming: Black Craft & Design in Chicago

Join us for an opening reception to celebrate and kick off our summer exhibitions!     In a world rich with diverse cultures and histories, the concept of belonging and homeplace holds profound significance. Within the tapestry of human experiences, one thread stands out with resilience, creativity, and an indomitable spirit – the Black cinematic […]

Through a Lens of Beauty & Wonderment: Notes on Collaborative Friendship | Opening Reception

Join us for an opening reception to celebrate and kick off our fall/winter exhibition with curator and artist Nnaemeka C. Ekwelum!          …Notes on Collaborative Friendship (First floor Burroughs Gallery) is the culmination of Nnaemeka C. Ekwelum’s doctoral research on friendship, artistic collaboration, and decolonial Black political thought. Through a series of […]

All of Living is Risk | Opening Reception

  Join us for an opening reception to celebrate and kick off our fall/winter exhibitions alongside curators Rikki Byrd, and Gervais Marsh, with artist Cory Perry!          All of Living is Risk (2nd floor Cortor Gallery) brings together works by Cory Perry (b. 1989, Fayetteville, Arkansas) and Nnaemeka C. Ekwelum (b. 1990, […]


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.