Plan Your Visit

The South Side Community Art Center is the nation’s oldest African American art center in the United States and is a Chicago Historic Landmark. While taking pride in our rich past, we today build on our legacy and innovatively serve as an artist- and community-centered resource with programs, exhibitions and events that inspire.

We welcome all to experience the history reverberating through our space, inspiring exciting forward momentum in artistic creation and expression.

Please view the sidebar for important information on safely visiting and engaging with the center during the coronavirus pandemic.

General Admission

We proudly keep South Side Community Art Center accessible to all by offering free admission. Those who are able are encouraged to donate to help support the center and its mission to conserve, preserve and promote the legacy and future of African American art and artists while educating the community on the value of art and culture.

Visitor Safety Guidelines

While the coronavirus pandemic continues to run its course, the safety and well-being of our guests and staff members remains of utmost importance to us.

The center is currently open to the public, with remaining caution to Covid 19.

Everyone who visits the Center must agree to follow SSCAC health practices when they visit.

We ask that you limit your visit to 30 minutes, whenever possible.


Visitors who are not feeling well for any reason or (a) have any COVID-19 Symptoms (b) have had a positive COVID-19 test in the past 14 days, and/or (c) have had close contact with anyone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19, are advised to stay home. In such cases, visitors are asked to postpone their visit for a future date.


Given our intimate space, we continue to recommend all visitors wear masks that cover both your nose and mouth.

Physical Distancing

Physical distancing is encouraged and we recommend guests maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from others during your visit.


We ask that there be no more than 15 visitors per gallery. We appreciate your help in maintaining our gallery capacity limits.

Contact Tracing

For contact tracing purposes, each guest is encouraged to sign in upon entry.


For your convenience, a hand-sanitizing station and masks can be found near our first floor entrance, outside of the Burroughs Gallery.

Custodial staff are regularly sanitizing public areas.

What Can You Expect

Please do not touch the artwork or run in our galleries, and visitors must use pencils, not pens, if taking notes. We ask that you please do not drink or eat in our galleries.

No pets other than service animals are allowed in the galleries.

We are also hosting public engagements that allow us to maintain social distancing and hosting a number of virtual events. Please view our events page  or sign up for our emails (below) to learn about upcoming events.

Support the mission

Donate today to keep the legacy of SSCAC alive and to ignite its future.




South Side Community Art Center is located in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, off the East Pershing Road exit of I-90 and near the Indiana Green Line stop.

3831 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois  60653 


Wednesday – Saturday, 12pm -4pm.

Appointments necessary outside of open hours.


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.