Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-08-05
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Loop historical exhibit spotlights Black designers
by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Margaret T. Burroughs was an instrumental designer in the South Side Black design community who bridged global divides, design interests and created nurturing environments for artists and designers to thrive. She co-founded the DuSable Museum in 1961 and was largely a part of establishing the South Side Community Art Center in 1940, along with William McBride.

These figures are just some of the Black designers featured in the Chicago Cultural Center's new exhibit "African American Designers in Chicago: Art, Commerce and the Politics of Race."

It opened Oct. 27 and will remain until March 3, 2019. The exhibit is part of Art Design 2018, a collection of exhibits and events that celebrate Chicago's design and art community's past and present. This exhibit brings together art and design from more than 30 Black designers who started in the 1900s—a time when Chicago, and America at large, harbored bias toward Black professionals. The gallery focuses on influential designers creating an alternative narrative to the design history of the city at a time when white-controlled unions and craft guilds prohibited Blacks from entering design trades.

The expansive exhibit has rows of glass-covered tables with advertised posters, cartoons, books, magazines, dioramas, architectural signage, graphic designs, beauty advertisements and old artifacts made by Black designers—many who contributed to Chicago's culture as a prominent place for Black designers in this country. They made it somewhere Black designers could expand and share their craft, according to the exhibit's brochure. "This exhibition celebrates the lives and works of African-American designers, who created a future for the 'Negro artisan' beyond what [civil-rights activist W.E.B.] Du Bois could envision," it said. That vision, said the brochure, was something Du Bois said in 1912: that there were not many skilled African-American laborers in Chicago. "The Negro artisan is losing," Du Bois remarked.

The artistic boom that erupted from Black designers by the middle of the century was due to design strongholds such as the South Side Community Art Center, the Art Institute of Chicago, Ebony magazine and more. The exhibit features art from these institutions; Jet magazine and Johnson Publishing Company represented an age of modernity in the Black design community and further established Chicago as an empowering design environment.

Lake View residents Tim O'Hagen and Julie Osbourne visited the exhibit's opening reception Nov. 2 and found the exhibit to be a strong historical lesson on the importance of Chicago's design community.

"It touches on the Chicago Expo, Sears, Ebony magazine—institutions that are really important for history and Chicago's place in the world," O'Hagen said.

For Osbourne, the exhibit showed a new perspective to history of her own lifetime.

"It is interesting because it brings a certain amount of history that I was not familiar with," Osbourne said. "I was alive but I was a kid; I didn't know about it."

The Great Depression's effect on Black designers was an event she found particularly interesting because it showed the difficulty they had in getting jobs after the industries shut down. While that may sound similar to others seeking employment after the Depression, racism toward Blacks and their fear of not being accepted into the mainstream birthed safe spaces for Black designers to still be creative.

Marjorie Stewart Joyner was one Black artist who used her talent to cater to Black consumers and bounce back from the Depression. Her work was one that struck Osbourne, and the exhibit gives Joyner a whole glass table that showcases her hair-care products to Black women and men with catchy photo of models and loud text. According to the brochure, Joyner was the first Black woman to graduate from Chicago's A.B. Beauty School in 1916, and her hair products influenced the beauty culture industry.

O'Hagan said the exhibit reminded him of all the talent in Chicago and its influence past and present.

"We were really were and are a manufacturing and design center," he said. "It goes back many decades and African-Americans were part of it and not recognized for their talents."

The gallery has work from Black SAIC graduates who went on to create different mediums of art that impacted the Chicago design community, such as McBride, Charles Dawson and William Knight Farrow. Other notable designers include Thomas Miller, a designer at Morton Goldsholl Associates who designed the famous Motorola logo and TV commercials for 7Up and Hamburger Helper. Robert S. Pious, who created posters for the American Negro Exposition in Chicago in 1940, has posters in the show and Emmett McBain, an assistant art director at Playboy, designed record covers and posters of poems and quotes from prominent Black activists. Another Black designer who tied music and art together was Sylvia Abernathy, who designed covers for Denmark Records and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

Curated by Daniel Schulman, Chris Dingwall and Tim Samuelson, the exhibit has been 10 years in the making, acknowledged the curators in the brochure. They also acknowledged the timing of the exhibit; 10 years ago, design scholars and the public did not give much thought or awareness to Black designers.

"Only recently had scholars of African-American culture attended to the commercial arts as a site where Black people intervened in the shaping of history—their own and the nation's— in what is now dynamic field of inquiry," the curators wrote.

The exhibit is on the fourth floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. For more information, see .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

BIPOC/TGNC artists take part in 'Black Trans Lives Matter' mural 2020-08-10 - Answering a callout on the weekend of Aug. 8-9 to paint the message "BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER," BIPOC/TGNC artists took part on the ...

Gay News

Lookingglass hosting 'Eastland' watch party Aug. 20 2020-08-08 - Lookingglass Theatre Company will host a one-night watch party of Eastland: An Original Musical Watch Party, on Thursday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart fall benefit Sept. 12-13 2020-08-08 - The Gerber/Hart Library and Archives fall benefit—"Saving LGBTQ History: Archives in a Time of Activism"—will take place Sept. 12-13 at the venue, 6500 ...

Gay News

Call for BIPOC/TGNC artists for mural painting Aug. 8-9 2020-08-07 - In partnership with the 40th Ward and Ald. Andre Vasquez, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce ( ACC ) has issued an immediate callout ...

Gay News

WCPA names William Southerland as new artistic director 2020-08-05 - Local LGBTQ+ choral organization Windy City Performing Arts ( WCPA ) has named Dr. William Southerland as the artistic director of Windy City ...

Gay News

Fellowship for local Black theater artists announced 2020-08-05 - The League of Chicago Theatres announced The Samuel G. Roberson Jr. Resident Fellowship, a grant to fund a residency for early to mid-career ...

Gay News

About Face Theatre names new associate artistic director 2020-07-29 - About Face Theatre (AFT) welcomes Mikael Burke to its staff in the role of associate artistic director to lead AFT's education and new ...

Gay News

Wrightwood 659 showing Doshi exhibit Sept. 9-Dec. 12 2020-07-26 - Local art space Wrightwood 659, 659 W. Wrightwood Ave., will reopen with an exhibition devoted to the work of visionary Indian architect, urbanist ...

Gay News

NUNN ON ONE PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Bussian focuses on New York's trans community 2020-07-22 - Peter Bussian is a visual artist who continually promotes international themes in his work. He's been published in The New York Times, LA ...

Gay News

New public artworks coming to Chicago Riverwalk 2020-07-22 - CHICAGO, IL — The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events ( DCASE ) in collaboration with the Department of Assets, Information and ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.