ENGLEWOOD — Black joy and liberation is the focus of an exhibition created by an Englewood artist and set to debut in February.
Artist Isiah “ThoughtPoet” Veney’s gallery uses photographs from the past decade to spotlight South Side artists, revolutionaries and community members, and it questions “what life would look like for Black folks if the police didn’t exist.”
Veney will kick off his exhibition, “(#iKnowFolksAss) The Interlude,” with an event 9 p.m. Feb. 22 at Hideout Chicago, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. Advance tickets are $12 and can be bought online.
All proceeds for the gallery will support local mutual aid funds; Nita’s Love Train, a group that provides necessities for parents and their children; and Healing Every Revolutionary (HER) Chicago, an organization that fights for social equity.
“I want people to understand that this work isn’t something that’s easily swallowed, but it’s something that’s needed for us to progress,” Veney said. “I take pride in holding and pushing these stories forward because the more that these stories are told, the more that we exist.”
For the past 10 years, Veney has stood behind a camera and captured the South Side from the perspective of one of its own. Born and raised in Chatham and Burnside, he now lives and spends his time creating in Englewood.
In 2021, Veney became an Englewood Arts Collective United Still fellow. Along with 10 other South Side artists, he received $3,500 to create a project that celebrates or engages his community.
Behind the lens, Veney has captured the impact of Chicago artists like Chance the Rapper and Chief Keef, and he has stood front and center during protests after the murder of George Floyd, he said.
In “(#iKnowFolksAss) The Interlude,” Veney juggles illustrating tense and joyful moments on the South Side until they mingle to become one narrative of a united community, he said.
“This work entails what the South Side of Chicago is made of, from the music, arts, culture, organizers, everything,” Veney said. “This isn’t a whitewashed version of Chicago. This is a very direct glimpse into what it means to build and better our Black and Brown communities.”
The exhibit’s title, a coined Chicago phrase, is meant as a term of endearment, Veney said. The expression is another way to say you know or recognize someone.
When viewers see “(#iKnowFolksAss) The Interlude,” Veney wants them to see themselves in the photos, he said.
And for those witnessing something entirely new, Veney hopes to welcome them to “the Black Chicago experience.”
“The photos that people are seeing are of people and communities that are trying to make a difference, and most of the time, people do not get a chance to hear about these people in these communities,” Veney said. “I want people to understand that this is something you can build into and support.”
All attendees must be 21 or older. IDs and vaccination cards will be checked at the entrance. Masks are required.
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