Synopsis of Echoes of Our Journey- The Windows

“New Beginnings”

Found Objects Photo Collage on Glass

Constructive Traditional Improvisational is an open ended play on glass, using collage, paper, color transparency, found objects, vibrational sound narrative sketches from my sketch books to create a narrative of black experimentalism.

The wooden frame is from the original window above the Jones brother’s  Ben Franklin Store on 47th Street, the world's only black owned department store. After the wind blew the window over twice and picking up the broken glass, I decided to take the fragmented pieces and reconstruct  the glass to make the collage. I think in doing so I visually was able to tell a better narrative. 

Original window above the Jones Brother’s hardware store,

 This piece is a collage on glass, representing the fragmented view of Chicago’s 

Black Belt, and Black Wall Street. 

In 1946, the Jones brothers were at the top of the $25 million-a-year policy syndicate in Chicago. The three brothers, Edward, George, and McKissack (Mack), started out small, running a policy station from the back entrance of their "Jones Brothers Tailor Shop."
Lead by brother Ed, the Jones trio turned a nickel game into a sophisticated business enterprise, which included the Jones Brothers 
The brothers made high level civic and social connections, but the glamorous and lavish lifestyle of the Jones boys couldn't be separated from the criminal activity that created it. Kidnappings, death threats, corrupt politics, violence, and jail time were also prominent in the brothers' lives.  Policy expert Nathan Thompson tells the family history of the Jones brothers:
Joe Louis and Marva Trotter owners of Mae's Dress Shoppe
Background images below find details of the collage - images used to illustrate the era of 1935 Chicago's black belt and fighting for civil rights, fair housing rights,  employment for blacks arriving in Chicago at record numbers.

Foreground images reflect Emancipation, reflective of what children see on the TV, and what is really going on around them during the Great Depression, and the Great Black Migration in the 1930's. 

Industrialized fantasy sounds like something extremely complex. Yet it is quite simple. Walt Disney’s picture-play “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is an excellent example.

“Snow White” Effect  “Prosperity Out of Fantasy” 

It is reflective of the transparent vision that we carried with us to want to beautify our struggle, frame our tenacity, and to showcase our self-sacrifice. Reflective of the transparent vision that Blacks had of fleeing the entanglement of the south.

But, within the collage, I give tribute to artists, the era where we shaped the conversation of the role of the black artist. After emancipation all those people who had been slaves, needed the music, the art, the stories more than ever. It was like they needed to hear, and visualize what a man can do with his life when it is finally his.

Elizabeth Catlett: Honors include first prize in sculpture in the American Negro Exposition, Chicago (1940); The Role of the Black Artist- National Congress of Black Artists. In 1940, Catlett became the first woman to receive the master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa.

 Her 1939 thesis limestone sculpture, Mother and Child, won first prize in sculpture at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago in 1940. Catlett’s investment in art continued at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1941 with her art studies in ceramics, and in New York in 1942 and 1943 with sculptor Ossip Zadkine (born Russian, 1890-1967) and lithography classes at the Art Students League.

Richard Hunt, Born in Chicago in 1935, Hunt developed an interest in art from an early age. From seventh grade on he attended the Junior School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He went on to study there at the college level, receiving a B.A.E. in 1957.  A traveling fellowship from the School of the Art Institute took him to England, France, Spain and Italy the following year. While still a student at SAIC, he began exhibiting his sculpture nationwide and during his Junior year one of his pieces, “Arachne,” was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 1962, he was the youngest artist to exhibit at Seattle’s World Fair


Dr.Margaret Burroughs  born in 1917, migrated to Chicago 1922, made the first of her many contributions to African American arts and culture when she founded ,--at age 22--the South Side Community Art Center, a community organization that serves as a gallery and workshop studio for artists and students. Mrs. Burroughs continues to serve of the Board of Directors for the Center, which remains active more than sixty years after its formation. Center .

"Every individual wants to leave a legacy, to be remembered for something positive they have done for their community. Long after I'm dead and gone the [DuSable] museum will still be here. A lot of black museums have opened up, but we're the only one that grew out of the indigenous black community. We weren't started by anybody downtown; we were started by ordinary folks.


“Sharecropper and his Family Heading North"


I wanted to recapture this moment in time, because of the symbolism of the Black Man being the anchor, holding his family in time of disaster, “love and dedication”, the same strength that he would need to make it through the Great Depression, and what was to face them once arriving in the Chicago Black Belt.

From Riots to Renaissance (1919-1940)

World War I and the Great Migration had a tremendous impact on black Chicago. Industrial jobs that were previously closed to blacks were thrown open to meet the demands of the war. Thousands of Southern blacks flocked to the city looking for employment and a chance to build a new life north of the Mason-Dixon line.

The large number of Southern migrants looking for work and housing in the segregated city caused mounting racial tension. In the summer of 1919, the city erupted in the bloodiest race riot in Chicago's history.

Despite the racial unrest, the post-war economy was booming. In the black community known as Bronzeville, black entrepreneurs developed thriving enterprises that catered to the neighborhood's residents. Nightclubs and dance halls were filled with music lovers swaying to the blues and swinging to a new sound called jazz that captured the nation. In this fast-paced modern age, a black aviation movement took off in Chicago, but the high-flying times didn't last. The Great Depression hit the nation hard. Jobs became scarce, yet tens of thousands of hopeful black migrants continued to stream into Chicago looking for better lives.

Out of this mix of hardship and prosperity came new forms of activism, art, and thought. The black community was changing and these changes were reflected in the works of some of the 20th century's most talented black artists during a period known as Chicago's Black Renaissance.

“Game Change”-
Leroy Beauregard WOR

Wall of Respect-


Popular Posts