• October 19–20, 2018

Symposium: Unfinished Business! The South Side and Chicago Art

Featuring: art historian Richard J. Powell

Columbia College Chicago and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

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Ralph Arnold, Above this Earth Games, Games, 1968. Reproduced with permission from The Pauls Foundation.


Although under-recognized in most surveys of Chicago art, the South Side nurtured important artistic movements, raised complex questions about the nature of black aesthetics, and promoted the arts through community arts organizations that continue to shape the fabric of Chicago. This symposium presents a series of panels and intergenerational dialogues that connect the history of the South Side to the present moment, in which the community, its arts organizations, and artists continue to play a central role in the visual culture and artistic dialogue of Chicago’s vibrant art and design community. Unfinished Business! is co-presented by the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago and the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago.

The symposium is free, but space is limited. Please register in advance.

Friday, October 19

  • 6 p.m. Keynote: Black Parnassus: Art in Chicago in the Interwar Years, Richard J. Powell 

Stage Two, Columbia College Chicago, 618 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Richard J. Powell is John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art & Art History at Duke University. A specialist in American art, the arts of the African Diaspora, and contemporary visual studies, he has written extensively, including such titles as Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (1991), Black Art: A Cultural History (1997 & 2002), and Cutting a Figure: Fashioning Black Portraiture (2008).

Saturday, October 20

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th Street, Chicago

  • 10 a.m. Welcome
  • 10:15–11:45 a.m. Spaces: The South Side and Black Cultural Institutions

This panel reflects on the South Side as a site of cultural production and activism, and explores how it functioned within and responded to the social/cultural/political conditions of the South Side. Featuring presentations by Natalie Moore, Maséqua Myers, Faheem Majeed, moderated by Skyla S. Hearn.

  • Noon–1 p.m. Lunch, listening party, and printmaking activity
  • 1–3 p.m. From the Archive

A series of presentations that explore historic artistic interventions on the South Side by Sojourner Scholars, Jacqueline Stewart, Yaoundé Olu, Greg Foster-Rice, and Rebecca Zorach.

  • 3:30–5 p.m. Panel: Shaping the South Side through Art and Activism

Artists at the frontlines of activist organizing has been a consistent characteristic of how Chicago's South Side communities have operated, whether it's 1968 or 2018. For this panel, artists, activists, and scholars come together to discuss the ways that art and activism have intersected in Chicago over the decades and what it looks like today. Featuring Page May, Monica Trinidad, Ayana Contreras, and Abdul Alkalimat. Moderated by Tracye Matthews.

  • 7–9 p.m. Screening

Following the symposium, stay at the Logan Center for a screening of two films about the intersection of art, music, and politics on Chicago’s South Side: Edward Bland’s The Cry of Jazz (1959, restored 35mm print) and Harley Cokeliss's Chicago Blues (1970, digital restoration). The screening is introduced by DJ, radio producer, and author Ayana Contreras and presented by South Side Projections, as part of their Chicago's Black Arts Movement in Film series, in collaboration with the Smart Museum of Art, the Film Studies Center, and the Logan Center for the Arts as part of the Logan Center Bluesfest.


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