Area Exhibitions to Visit During Black History Month 2024

Kaima Akarue
It took a long time to get here


Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition at MSI

For 50 years, the Museum of Science and Industry has hosted the nation’s premier exhibition of African American art. The Juried Art Exhibition is a pillar of the Museum’s Black Creativity program, which showcases African American achievement in a variety of scientific, artistic, and technological fields. Each year, the Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition presents more than 100 works of art from professional and emerging Black artists from throughout the U.S. There is a general category, Works by Black artists age 18 or older, and a teen category, Black artists under 18 OR in grades 9-12.

The Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Black Creativity program invites students, teachers, families and the public to explore the legacy of rich contributions and achievements made by African Americans while encouraging deeper interest in science and technology among youth.

This longest-running exhibition of African American art has been displayed annually at MSI since 1970. Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition features paintings, drawings, fine art prints, sculpture, mixed-media, ceramics and photography by African Americans, including youth artists between the ages of 14 and 17. See dynamic works from both professional and amateur African American artists from around the country.

This exhibition is now open through April 21, 2024 and is included in Museum Entry.


David Shrobe, Gathering, 2023. Oil, acrylic, charcoal, ink, wood laminate, painted canvas, flocking, wool, printed acrylic, sandpaper, and wood furniture parts on joined wood panels. 78 x 59 x 1 1/2 in


David Shrobe: Natural Sovereignty

February 3—March 16 at moniquemeloche

Opening reception, Saturday, February 3, 4-7pm

Through assemblage, collage, drawing, and painting, the works on view draw from oral histories, family portraits, and online archives to present the vitality of family life among Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. Pulling from the past to project new possibilities of the future, Shrobe considers the backyard and garden as an extension of the home and a site of sustenance, survival, and resistance.

Natural Sovereignty is the last body of work created in the artist’s longtime studio in Harlem, NY. Next month, the artist will vacate his studio in the apartment that has housed his family for nearly a century. Slices of the domestic materialize through found objects such as tabletops, doors, molding, mirror frames, wood flooring, and textiles. The artist collects these objects over long periods of time–often found within the surrounding blocks near his building–filling every corner of his studio. 

Inspired by bell hooks’ reflection on photography, several of Shrobe’s assemblage paintings are drawn from turn of the century photographs of Black and Indigenous Americans, representing autonomy for people of color and a declaration of their presence. The camera and photography, as described by hooks, offered African Americans a way to empower themselves through counterhegemonic representation and offered the possibility of immediate intervention. Read more...


The Wisconsin Black Art & Culture Expo

The annual Wisconsin Black Art & Culture EXPO is the state's largest celebration of black artistic contributions to Wisconsin and the world. A two-month long series of events, the celebration features a variety of community collaborations to kick-off Black History Month. There are many events planned, from receptions to talks to a gala at UW–Parkside on February 10. Mahogany Gallery in Racine, WI, the organizer of the EXPO, is hosting a four-part viewing and discussion series called Black in Latin America. 

Last year the EXPO supported over 20 black owned businesses, infused thousands of dollars into the Racine economy and brought visitors from across the US to southern Wisconsin. 

Participating venues include 

Mahogany Gallery
America’s Black Holocaust Museum
Racine Art Museum
Hot Shop Glass
Lemon Street Gallery



Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar

During the uprising and global pandemic in 2021, A Long Walk Home's Chicago-based artists Scheherazade Tillet and Robert Narciso created The Black Girlhood Altar. The Black Girlhood Altar is a multimedia, artifact-based, video, and object-based artwork to create sacred spaces and honor the lives of Black girls and young Black women who have gone missing or been murdered. As a mode of urgent healing – weaving together commemoration and advocacy – the Black Girlhood Altar is built on years of engaged work in Chicago and taking on national prominence. This temporary monument traveled through various neighborhoods in Chicago before being exhibited at Chicago Cultural Center.

On view through March 10



Bending Light

An exhibition at the South Side Community Art Center, Bending Light, invites you to experience color not just as a visual spectacle but as a powerful conduit for reflection and dialogue. Echoing curator and artist Paul Branton, What does it truly mean to be colored in America? This question approaches theories of color, in relation to identity and the rich pigments found in nature; they serve as the palette for this artistic inquiry and the profound implications of this label. The artists explore its impact on Black identity, potential, and the intricate interplay between societal perceptions and individual existence. 

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, the works are a celebration of the language of color, offering a poignant exploration of the unique challenges, triumphs, and complexities of Black life. 



Faith Ringgold: American People

This career-spanning survey of artist Faith Ringgold opening in the Griffin Galleries ends this month at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This is Ringgold’s first solo presentation in Chicago.

With a career that spans six decades, artist, author, educator, and organizer Ringgold is one of the most influential cultural figures of her generation. This major retrospective presents a comprehensive assessment of the artist’s impactful vision, which bears witness to the complexity of the American experience. 

Faith Ringgold: American People is an overdue examination of an iconic artist whose work has been underseen in Chicago,” Manilow Senior Curator Jamillah James says. The exhibition will also further contextualize Ringgold’s continuing impact on art history through the inclusion of works from the MCA Collection by artists who were influenced by Ringgold or explore similar themes in their work.

On view through February 25 at the MCA