By Raymond Ward, The New 411
Contemporary responses combine with soul-stirring photos and local history about fair housing
As the U.S. faces a historic moment of social justice reawakening, the Elmhurst Art Museum announces a new exhibition that reflects on historical and contemporary responses to fair housing in the Chicagoland area, In Focus: The Chicago Freedom Movement and The Fight for Fair Housing, on view at the Museum March 4 through June 20, 2021.
Related programming will begin in December 2020 and continue through the spring of 2021, including the opening of the complementary new exhibition, There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as Memorial, in the historic McCormick House, adjacent to the Museum, December 3, 2020, through May 8, 2021, and a virtual discussion about the Chicago Freedom Movement to be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18, 2021.
In Focus features some of the first-ever color documentary photographs taken of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as other Chicago civil rights leadership and organized public marches. All thirty-two photos were taken by 85-year-old photographer, activist and Wheaton resident Bernard Kleina, and provide context for the 1965-67 movement led by King, James Bevel, and Al Raby, who fought against systemic racism and segregation of the Chicagoland area. These events inspired the Fair Housing Act of 1968. In Focus is sponsored by the David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation.
“We believe that art is a powerful tool for change, and our mission as an art museum is always to inspire people to see and think differently through art,” said John McKinnon, Executive Director of the Elmhurst Art Museum. “We are proud to launch a number of events and exhibitions that further important conversations about inequities of the past leading up to today.”
A complementary exhibition and related programming will expand on the work of the Chicago Freedom Movement, continued fights for fair housing and racial equity:
There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as Memorial – December 3, 2020-May 8, 2021.
The Museum’s Mies van der Rohe McCormick House will feature Pittsburgh-based interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer Alisha Wormsley and conceptual artist Ayanah Moor, professor of print-media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Wormsley and Moor will create an installation in the McCormick House as a means of activism and education to support mothers fighting for the future of Black housing. The exhibition references national, community, and grassroots organizations—like Moms 4 Housing—that advocate for affordable, dignified housing for all. There is Black Housing in the Future is inspired by Afro-Futurist artists and writers who affirm the visibility and well-being of Black communities across notions of space and time. An artist activity video for youth will complement Wormsley and Moor’s artwork. Using everyday household items, the artists will guide viewers in the production of message-based posters, yard signs, and even kites to support communities’ voices. This exhibit is supported by the Goethe-Institut and Wunderbar Together.
Virtual MLK Day Discussion: Chicago Freedom Movement – January 18, 2021, Time TBD.
Martin Luther King Day will be celebrated with pause, reflection, and opportunities to learn more about the Chicago Freedom Movement and continued fights for fair housing in the Chicagoland area. The group discussion will include participants from the 1966 marches and other experts in the field. The virtual event is free and can be accessed on [www.elmhurstartmuseum.org].
Additional public programming will be announced after the first of the year.
COVID-19 Protocol: The Museum, located at 150 S. Cottage Hill Ave., encourages non-members to purchase tickets online in advance of visiting the Museum. Members, children, and students may check-in without an advance ticket purchase. All visitors must wear a face mask and are asked to review the Museum’s COVID-19 protocols before visiting at [www.elmhurstartmuseum.org/visit/covid/]. The Museum’s galleries are open in accordance with the Restore Illinois Plan to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Current hours: Monday – Wednesday (closed), Thursday – Sunday (12 p.m. – 5 p.m.). Members only hours on Saturday and Sunday (11 a.m. – 12 p.m.). The first Friday of every month is free. Call 630-834-0202 for updated information about in-house visits.