Celebrating Black History Month in Chicago

Feb 8, 2024

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Large building with columns

Happy Black History Month from ART on THE MART

As we step into February, a month dedicated to honoring the rich tapestry of Black history, it's crucial to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Black artists. In this spirit, let's revisit the powerful projections by ART on THE MART alumni artists and explore their engagement with the Chicago community. Additionally, discover ways of supporting Black art experiences across the city of Chicago via our suggestions below.


Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project | The Big Bang: Movement Theory + the Black Dancing Body
The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project is a multi-year project that aims to uplift and strengthen the impact of Black dance in Chicago and beyond. The commission for ART on THE MART, directed by Princess Mhoon, showcased original choreography in three acts, taking audiences on a journal of the Black experience in America by way of dance.

Derrick Adams | Funtime Unicorn: Ruby Rides Through Four Seasons

Derrick Adams celebrates and expands the dialogue around contemporary Black life and culture through scenes of normalcy and perseverance. His spring 2023 commission for ART on THE MART celebrated Black joy, love, and play through a majestic display of colorful dreamscapes and light tunnels.

Nick Cave | Ba Boom Boom Pa Pop Pop

Acclaimed American artist Nick Cave’s commission for ART on THE MART featured the artist's iconic Soundsuits in motion. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender, and class –forcing the viewer to look without judgment. Cave initially created Soundsuits in response to the police beating of Rodney King in 1991.

Shkunna Stewart and Wills Glasspiegel | Billiken

Wills Glasspiegel, the filmmaker behind ART on THE MART's 2021 Footnotes projection, and Shkunna Stewart, collaborated to direct Billiken, a commission celebrating the youth dance groups and marching bands that participate in the annual Bud Billiken Parade, the largest and longest-running African American parade in the U.S.

Black Art Experiences in Chicago

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Black Ensemble Theater 
Since being founded in 1976, Black Ensemble Theater has grown from a small community arts organization to an internationally renowned arts institution. The group utilizes theater and educational outreach programs to bring races together in a community fostering dialogue, understanding, and acceptance.

Cherry Mountain Arts (CMA)

CMA is a fine art exhibit space, art center, and novelty shop that serves as a gathering place for members of the community to come together and recognize the power of art. CMA believes that art should have no limits to how it's defined and provides the right tools and resources to experiment and craft their work.

Chicago Mahogany 

Chicago Mahogany highlights Chicago’s people, architecture, and impact on the world through tours hosted by social media sensation, Dilla. He is dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of the rich history and culture of the city of Chicago.

Open the Circle (OTC)

OTC is a nonprofit organization devoted to channeling resources into greenroots creative projects, with an initial focus on Chicago Footwork,  a style of African American dance and music developed by young people living in immediate proximity to some of the greatest problems facing American society. OTC addresses issues around social justice and inequality, building relationships across segregated divides.

Rebuild Foundation
Founded by artist Theaster Gates in 2010, Rebuild Foundation is a platform for art, cultural development, and neighborhood transformation. The Foundation is well-known for innovative, ambitious, and impactful arts and cultural initiatives, hosting projects and programs that amplify the history, value, and promise of Black creativity at local, national, and international scales. 

South Side Community Art Center South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC)

SSCAC is a Chicago Historic Landmark and the oldest African American art center in the United States. Through educational artistic programs, exhibitions, talks, and tours, SSCAC showcases established and emerging artists and connects members to African American art and artists.