Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, Chicago MCA Exhibit

An exhibit showcasing one of America’s greatest living artists and his efforts to change black representation in art.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago is currently hosting the work of Kerry James Marshall, one of America’s greatest living artists. His mission has been to address the absence of black artists and subject matter in the history of art. Through his use of paint, collage, and ink-jet/wood block printed media; Marshall finds it important to depict the underrepresented subject matter of everyday life events within the black community. This includes scenes from barbershops and hairdressers, to children playing outside of their city apartment buildings. These subjects are often juxtaposed with traditional style influences from Rococo, Baroque, De Stijl, and Renaissance art. Marshall additionally uses his art as a platform to present ideas to viewers, and is therefore not solely a means of self-expression.

Born at the very begging of the Civil Rights Movement, and an eyewitness to the Watts Riots of 1965, Marshall naturally draws inspiration from historical movements and events when creating his art. Marshall’s work is also extremely relevant today, with active movements like Black Lives Matter and Black Girl Magic, inspiring the need to address current social issues.

In 1997, Kerry James Marshall was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship Award for his outstanding creative potential, and in 2016 the Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal for his achievement in creative and performing arts that benefit humanity. Marshall has also been an educator for a number of institutions ranging from Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Southwest College, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kerry James Marshall’s exhibit at the Chicago MCA lasts until September 25th, and we highly recommend checking it out!

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Artwork by Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Studio), 2014

Photo courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner, London.