This group show featured art that evokes emotions of reflections and creativity. The show featured the work of Marcus Alleyne, Keith Conner, Ladipo Famodu, Reynaldo Ferdinand, Felicia Preston Grant, Alvin Hawkins, Zhana Johnson, Raymond Mays, Miguel, Yaounde Olu, Mary Qian, Patricia Stewart, Patrick Thompson, and Krystal Grover Webb.

Jesse Howard – The Spirit of Community

Jesse Howard’s first solo exhibition at South Side Community Art Center explores the Black American community as more than a singular philosophical concept of a culture, but rather a more diversified community of multifaceted voices through a body of charcoal based works. Howard’s socially concerned work is informed by his own lived experiences growing up on Chicago’s west side and the collective societal challenges faced by Black Americans today.

Faheem Majeed – From the Center

“From the Center”is a retrospective of works created by Faheem Majeed over the past twenty years

Just Above My Wall, (To The Right)

Just Above My Wall, (To The Right), curated by Ciera Alyse McKissick, brings together Black collectors and SSCAC's permanent collection.   Just Above My Wall, (To The Right), showcases Black contemporary artworks from 13 emerging and established Black art collectors from Chicago. During a time when Black artists and their work is in high demand, […]

Artists and Models: A Tribute to the South Side Community Art Center.

Artists and Models: A Tribute to the South Side Community Art Center July 10-August 29, 2021 Students from across Columbia College Chicago brought the South Side Community Art Center’s (SSCAC) administrative archives to life through a recent exhibition titled, “Artists and Models: A Tribute to the South Side Community Art Center.” The exhibit was previously […]

Whitfield Lovell: The Spell Suite | An Initiative of Toward Common Cause

Whitfield Lovell: The Spell Suite An Initiative of Toward Common Cause   SSCAC is beyond thrilled to be participate in this 19 institution collaborative exhibit and excited to showcase new works by Whitfield Lovell! Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 explores the extent to which certain resources—air, land, […]

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 […]


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.