HYDE PARK — The joys and labor of running a small, mighty and historic Black art institution are the focus of a new exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center, on display through July 24.
“Shrouds” is the latest installment of the “Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden” series by Faheem Majeed, who was executive director of the South Side Community Art Center from 2005 to 2011. The center at 3831 S. Michigan Ave. is the oldest Black art center in the United States still operating in its original building.
The exhibition is held at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., and features graphite rubbings of and inspired by the Bronzeville institution, an inkjet print, a drywall carving and more. It will include four public programs over the coming weeks:
- A virtual panel discussion on the value of culturally specific institutions, 6-8 p.m. Thursday.
- A free workshop on rubbings, held in person at the Hyde Park Art Center at 1 p.m. June 6. It’s led by artist Stevia Ndoe, who helped Majeed complete a monumental graphite rubbing of the South Side Community Art Center last summer.
- “Push Pull,” a live performance by The Seldoms dance company, held in person at the Hyde Park Art Center 6 p.m. June 10 and 2 p.m. June 12.
- A virtual panel discussion on architecture and Black lives, 6-8 p.m. July 8.
Central to the exhibition is the titular “shroud,” a graphite rubbing of the South Side Community Art Center’s entire facade on a massive piece of muslin fabric.
The shroud will feature heavily in The Seldoms‘ performances of “Push Pull” on June 10 and 12.
In the one-person dance, performance artist Damon Green aims to physically represent the effort it takes to run the South Side Community Art Center, he said. He’s in constant “struggle and release” with the heavy graphite rubbing of the building throughout the performance.
“Just to see the passion that [Majeed] had, and knowing these jobs and these hats that he put on, I can relate to that,” Green said. “I love manual labor, I love that physical labor, because at the end of the day I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
The show’s focus on an “effortful body in labor” fits in well with The Seldoms’ overall aesthetic, said Carrie Hanson, the dance company’s artistic director and choreographer of Green’s performance.
“That [shroud] is heavy to move,” Hanson said. “When Damon is manipulating that, folding it, bundling it, carrying it on his back — anybody watching it understands. The choreography, in a way, is a simple task.”
“Push Pull” is a live version of a short film recorded during Majeed’s show at the South Side Community Art Center earlier this year. The film is projected on the Hyde Park Art Center’s walls during the exhibition and onto the center’s exterior at night.
Majeed also recreated the South Side Community Art Center’s wood-paneled walls, which feature dozens of holes where artworks have hung over decades, to create the stage for The Seldoms’ performance next month.
The wood panels house something in every show of the series — in this case, the shroud with the graphite rubbing, Majeed said. The wood took different forms in past shows, including a gallery and a set of bleachers, and will be repurposed again for upcoming exhibitions.
The constant change is a metaphor for Majeed’s time as the South Side Community Art Center’s director, in which he was responsible for managing “everything that came before” and giving it new meaning in the present, he said.
“That’s the idea — you don’t leave things behind,” Majeed said. “I think that’s a revolutionary way to think about a gallery. We often wash away the previous stuff … but in this [exhibition], everything is present all the time and you build on top.”
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: