HOMECOMING: ON THE YARD 2022   HOMECOMING will be SSCAC's first large-scale outdoor program, intended to be a city-wide call and response to Black artists!   RSVP HERE   HOMECOMING will […]

ReSource Symposium: Art and Resourcefulness in Black Chicago

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 […]

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 […]

Dandelion Black Women Artists Talk

Members of the Dandelion Black Women Artists collective will join SSCAC Exhibitions Manager & Curator Lola Ayisha Ogbara in conversation.   RSVP HERE   Our upcoming exhibition 9 Artists/ 9 […]

Black Fine Art Month Salon Talk ‘Who’s Got Next’

We're proud to partner with Pigment International, Pigment International for a Salon Talk that explores Black Chicago Art History and legacies, featuring our favorite TikTok historian '6figga_dilla' !     […]

REWIND & PLAY | SSCAC x Black Harvest Film Festival

Gene Siskel Film Center 164 N State St, Chicago, IL, United States

SSCAC and Black Harvest Film Festival, in partnership with the Gene Siskel Film Center invite you to a complimentary afternoon screening of REWIND & PLAY!      Image courtesy of […]

3831 Holiday Pop-Up!

Join us to get a head start on holiday shopping at our first 3831 Holiday Pop-Up, with some of the city's most talented Black creatives!   Image courtesy: Limba Gal […]


Honoring the future MLK dreamed of, while also bringing in our own visions for the futures we want to create!     Join us for an afternoon of vision boarding, […]

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 […]

Black Adornment & The Found Object

Join SSCAC Archives and Collections Manager LaMar Gayles Jr. for an afternoon exploring mixed media art, our collections, and adornment objects from his personal collection.        In this […]


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.