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Chicago On My Mind Exhibit: A Story of “Many Chicagos”

Chicago On My Mind Exhibit: A Story of “Many Chicagos”

Chicago is a city of many colors and various realities.

It’s rich in joy, trauma and an abundance of neighborhoods and communities with a strong history of socio-political involvement and resilience. With that, there are various stories to be told about the “Windy City.”

In a visual conversation, Chicago On My Mind, an art exhibit comprised of pieces from the private collections of art collectors around the city such as Janice Bond, Eric Williams, Dwamina K. Drew and many more, the observer is invited to look deeper, analyze more and explore various perspectives as it tackles subject matters like the civil rights movement, displacement, the erasure of Black masculinity through the prison industrial system, feminism,  joy and hope.

Currently on display at the Arts Incubator, located in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood, the eye-grabbing installation includes a mixture of paintings, sculptures, photography and figurines from artists such as Hebru Brantley, Kara Walker, Dayo Laoye, Raub Welch and Shani Crowe, to name a few, respectfully.


"The Revenge of Emmett Till" by Hebru Brantley. From the collection of Dwamina K. Drew
“The Revenge of Emmett Till” by Hebru Brantley. From the collection of Dwamina K. Drew

Using a variety of themes, narratives and parts of the city, Curatorial Collective residents, La Keisha Leek and Sadie Woods, along with 10 collectors – who served as co-curators – embarked on this project with the intent to carry on the initial vision for the  Harlem On My Mind, 1969 exhibition presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In doing so, unlike the 1969 installation which came at the end of the Civil Rights Movement, and sparked controversy for not including any of the robust Harlemite artists, Chicago On My Mind, directly reaches into the community to craft a strong sense of story about the city and its people.

Woods expresses that Chicago On My Mind  centers on “many Chicagos [and] shows the diversity in the city [as well as] various art practices.”

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“We definitely wanted to create a show with impact,” Leek says.  “We want [to encourage] conversations [and] foster relationships with people who walk past here everyday. Washington Park deserves relatable work as well.”

Up top, Leek and Woods take us through the installation.

Event Scoop:
Join La Keisha Leek, Sadie Woods and their co-curators on Feb. 24, for a Collector’s Talk + Closing Reception, 6pm at the Arts Incubator.

LaToya “Toi” Cross is the Senior Editor of Entertainment and Culture for EBONY’s Print and Digital brand. You can catch this laughing creative sharing work, art and capturing life on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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