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 […]

TOWARD THE CENTER: In Conversation with Patric McCoy, Juarez Hawkins, and Jonathan Green

REGISTER VIA ZOOM   Join SSCAC Archives and Collections Manager LaMar Gayles Jr. for a conversation with EMERGENCE exhibiting artists Patric McCoy, Juarez Hawkins, and Jonathan Green for a conversation centering their individual practices, personal knowledge of artists in the SSCAC archive, and their relationships to Black art communities specific to Chicago's South Side. This […]


CLICK HERE TO REGISTER VIA ZOOM  In conjunction with EMERGENCE: Intersections at the Center, the current exhibition at the South Side Community Art Center, the exhibition's curators, zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o'neal and LaMar R. Gayles, Jr., discuss the exhibition and the research that made it happen. The conversation will be moderated by Greg Foster-Rice ON ZOOM.   […]


RSVP HERE In conjunction with EMERGENCE: Intersections at the Center, the current exhibition at the South Side Community Art Center, CEREMONIES will be screened IN PERSON, in partnership with South Side Projections. Co-curator of EMERGENCE and SSCAC Public Programs and Engagement manager zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal will lead a post-discussion with Aymar Jean Christian, associate professor of […]


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.