PERSPECTIVES: FIGURATION AND ABSTRACTION IN CONTEMPORARY BLACK ART  Opening Reception Fri.  Oct 28, 5-8pm;  Exhibition Discussion: Sat.  Oct 29, 1pm

Curator: Spencer Hutchinson

For nearly the entire history of Black Artists’ existence in the U.S., black art has been largely segregated from the concerns of mainstream Modern, Postmodern, and Contemporary Art, and usually focused on the human figure. Even visual artists as unconventional as Jean Michel Basquiat still frame the representation of the black body as the center of their Art making. Recently, this trend has been undergoing a change. Artists such as Julie Mehrutu and Mark Bradford have crossed the rubicon into Abstraction and into a frame of discourse that long excluded Black Artists while much older Black artists working in Abstraction going back decades such as Macarthur Binion are experiencing a renaissance and having their art being given the credibility that evaded them in years past. At the heart of this show are the questions what respectively drive Black Representational and Black Abstract Art? How are these motivations distinct from “Mainstream” representational and abstract art that the general public are more familiar with? How do representation and abstraction inform and contextualize each other in the discourse surrounding Black art and are there implications within this realm of discourse that can help shed light on the ontology of figuration and abstraction more broadly. This show attempts to equally represent Black figurative and abstract artists working in the mediums of Painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, and sculpture across a broad range of the African diaspora. We seek to include artists at all levels of their careers regardless of age, gender, ability, or sexual orientation to help drive the conversation and engender broader understanding of these two major themes in Contemporary Black Art.

A Statement on PERSPECTIVES by the curator:

In 1933 curator James V. Herring, philosopher Alain Locke and visual artist James A. Porter joined forces and put together a show featuring the various contributions made by African American Artists at all levels of training, education and professional accomplishment throughout the country to showcase what we now take for granted as being at the foundation of Modern Black Aesthetic Interests.

In the year 2022, only 89 years after the opening of a show that was erected at The Smithsonian Institution’s National Gallery of Art, many of the same issues addressed by Herring, Locke and Porter continue to resonate with us today. The centrality of The Black Experience, of African Identity, and of a sense of participation in a society in which one finds oneself to be so deeply enmeshed, and yet held so far apart from.

The location of Black Art’s contribution to society shifts with-in the American Psyche, in the ebb and flow of time, just as America’s relationship with us, her African-American inhabitants has. The styles have changed, somewhat, but the lived social realities remain very much the same. Intended to also act in recent historical concert with similar shows that have showcased Black Artists working today, specifically the ICONIC: Black Panther show at The Stony Island Artsbank in The Chatham/Southshore Neighborhood, PERSPECTIVES revisits what may have been the same subjective themes in 1933 revisited for the benefit of a contemporary audience, namely the representation of the human Figure, and the concept of Abstraction from the figure, from nature itself, and from the depths of the human psyche.

The Art that has been chosen, reflects the times in which Black Artists find themselves in yet again. I hope the work in this show teaches us to live for today, and celebrate the continued vibrance, vitality, and impact of Black Art in The City of Chicago and around the world.


Exhibiting Artists: 

Krystal Boney, Austen Brantley, Summer Brooks, Amel Dockery, Zahra Edwards, Angela Davis Fegan, Erol Harris II, Jennifer Hodges, Lindsay Johnson, George Jones, Rhian Kempadoo-Millar, Anika Kowalik, MISU, Marcela Adeze Okeke, Turtel Onli, Angie Redmond, Michele Stutts, Narvell Taylor, Darlene Tyree, Cheryl Toles, Nia Wilson

About the Curator:

Spencer Hutchinson is a 2020 MFA graduate from The University of Illinois at Chicago where he studied Studio and New Media Arts (specifically Painting and Sound) and a 2009 BFA graduate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied Sound, Painting and New Media. His work primarily deals with intersections across visual media, particularly painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, performance, 3D animation, video and sound as well as topics relating to race and art theory and criticism. He has shown nationally and internationally in Mexico City, Ravenna IT, Assisi IT, Dubai UAE, and Manchester UK and previously served as editor and art critic for the New Art Examiner as well as being a founding member of Agitator Cooperative Gallery in Chicago. He has been a working artist based in Chicago, IL since 2007.

Opening Reception, Friday, October 28, 5:00-8:00pm
Exhibition Discussion: Sat.  Oct 29, 1pm

  • Exhibition dates: Oct 27 –  Nov 19, 2022
  • Gallery hours: Thurs – Fri 2-6pm, Sat – Sun 12-4 pm


This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.