University of Illinois at Chicago
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The Nation Within: The Black Arts Movement in Chicago

thesis
posted on 2022-08-01, 00:00 authored by Marissa Baker
This dissertation examines collaborative and collective Black Arts projects produced in Chicago between 1967 and 1974 that reimagine the meaning and potential of the city as a site for Black liberation in the wake of the so-called urban crisis. By examining the ways artists engage actual and imagined urban space, it elaborates how Black Arts practitioners envisioned Black life in relation to and beyond their lived reality in the modern city. The Black Arts projects examined include (1) the Wall of Respect, installed on the South Side by the Visual Arts Workshop of the Organization of Black American Culture in 1967, and the 1971-1972 mural door program at Malcolm X College by Eugene “Eda” Wade; (2) Afrosurreal mural projects by Mitchell Caton from the early 1970s; (3) the poster-print project by the collective AFRICOBRA; and (4) photographs by Billy (Fundi) Abernathy published in the 1970 photo-text In Our Terribleness: (some elements and meaning in Black style). This dissertation challenges the idea that Black Arts practitioners were primarily concerned with illustrating political messages with an aesthetic of realism. In re-articulating the meaning and the significance of the city to Black consciousness, these artists presented more fluid notions of Black subjectivity, envisioned eschatological and spatialized ideas of history, and developed complex visual modes for representing Black life.

History

Advisor

Lee, Lisa Y

Chair

Lee, Lisa Y

Department

Art History

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Archias, Elise Ransby, Barbara Copeland, Huey Mooney, Amy

Submitted date

August 2022

Thesis type

application/pdf

Language

  • en

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