Twyler Jenkins and Phillip M. Gant, Co-Presidents of the Board announced that Maséqua Myers, Executive Director of The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC), has decided to leave her position effective September 13, 2019.
“Maséqua has been a transformative leader for the SSCAC,” said Jenkins. “During her five-year tenure, Maséqua achieved many significant milestones that recognize both the SSCAC’s rich history and set the stage for a dynamic future.”
In recognition of the central role that the Center has played in supporting countless African American artists since its founding in 1940, the South Side Community Art Center was named a ”National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018. In addition, under Myers leadership, the Center secured the largest grant in its history, slated to receive two million dollars as part of the State of Illinois recent capital bill to revitalize and expand the Center so it can meet the needs of youth, artists, and the community long into the future.
Having first walked through its doors as a teenager, Myers acknowledges “from the time I arrived, I realized the magnitude of what was required to continue the legacy of such major visionaries as Frank Neal, Archibald Motley, Charles White and Dr. Margaret Burroughs who were founding artists of SSCAC”.
During her tenure, SSCAC experienced heighten visibility and increased its services for artists and the community with enhanced programming and a more robust staff. Myers’ collaboration with artists, foundations and curators resulted in numerous exhibitions including: CHANGE THE CANVAS, CHANGE THE WORLD; A Landscape of Cultural Discovery, funded by the Terra Foundation, highlighting the important work of the founding artists of the South Side Community Art Center. Also, in partnership with The Art Institute of Chicago, a major public program entitled “The Gathering” celebrated the 100th anniversary of Charles White’s birth, and the important role that each organization played in White’s career. The Charles White exhibition is currently touring the country. Most recently, Myers broke attendance records with over 1900 visitors attending “FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN” — A Tribute to the Struggles and Triumphs of the Black Woman. In addition, Myers led efforts to secure over $3,500,000 to support the work of the Center and its expansion. With the support of key funders including the Alphawood Foundation, Chicago Community Trust and Joyce Foundation, Myers assembled a passionate, dedicated and cohesive staff including a new Development Director, curators and an executive assistant.
“I am very pleased with the growth of SSCAC since my executive directorship and I look forward to its continued growth,” said Myers. “I have accomplished all of the goals I came to accomplish and more; which makes my plan to return to the private sector the perfect time to resume my independent multimedia production projects. The revitalization of South Side Community Art Center is in ‘high gear’, which makes now the best time to pass the torch.”
“Thanks to all that Maséqua has accomplished in partnership with the many artists she has worked with, the staff, board, and our community of friends and supporters, the South Side Community Arts Center is well positioned for our future,” said Phil Gant. “We are well prepared to preserve our legacy, promote our future, and transform the South Side Community Art Center.”
The Board of Directors is working with Myers to identify possible candidates for her replacement and invites all in our community to join the staff and many artists that work with the Center to honor and thank Maséqua Myers for her transformative leadership on Friday, September 13th from 4 to 6:30 pm at the South Side Community Art Center.
ABOUT THE SOUTH SIDE COMMUNITY ART CENTER
A pillar of excellence in African American art and culture, The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) preserves, conserves and promotes the legacy and future of African American art and artists while educating the community on the value of art and culture. As the oldest independently owned African American art center in the United States, the SSCAC takes pride in its past and present contributions to the development and showcasing of emerging and established artists. An established resource for the art community locally, nationally and abroad, the SSCAC seeks out and educates young artists; exhibits the work of emerging and internationally recognized artists; presents and hosts a variety of cultural and educational programs and serves as a repository for African American artists, scholars, collectors, and the community.
The South Side Community Art Center has been instrumental in the careers of many nationally and internationally established African American artists – from the WPA era to the present. Poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote and taught at the Center, photographer Gordon Parks had his first darkroom in the Center’s basement and Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett shared what they learned from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with other artists and members of the community who could not afford the tuition. These names are just a few of the many artists who have contributed to the Center’s rich legacy.