American Writers Museum Commissions Large Scale Portraits by Chicago Artists for Black History Month
The American Writers Museum (AWM) is celebrating the vast and important contributions of Black writers all February long during Black History Month with Dark Testament: A Century of Black Writers on Justice and related author programs. General museum admission includes access to the special exhibit and a complimentary tour focused on Frederick Douglass, offered daily at 3 p.m. Thursday-Monday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
The centerpiece of Dark Testament are 16 large multicolored portraits by local Chicago artists that were commissioned for the exhibit exclusively. These paintings and quilts—which commemorate the likes of Ida B. Wells, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and more—were created by painters Damon Reed, Dorian Sylvain and Bernard Williams and fabric artist Dorothy Burge. The works of art include augmented reality elements that bring these writers to life and allow visitors to dive deeper into the exhibit content.
“[Dark Testament] is a celebration of the power and impact of these writers. It is about their fortitude and resilience and the impact their work still has, which is why the large portraits make them bigger than life,” said AWM President Carey Cranston.
The selected artists for the project not only specialize in the vibrant use of color, but they share many commonalities when it comes to their art. Williams creates projects which investigate the complexities of American history and culture through painting. Sylvain has devoted her work to building the next generation of “cultural keepers” and has worked extensively on the South Side of Chicago on projects that empower community and expose children to art making. Reed is a true believer in the power of art and its ability to bring about positive change. Burge is inspired by history and current issues of social justice and uses her medium as a tool to teach history, raise cultural awareness, and inspire action.
More information and events may be found here.