Over the weekend I went to The Art Institute of Chicago with a few friends for the museum's After Dark event. We arrived at the Modern Wing and entered the crowded lobby to the sounds of live music. After listening to the group of musicians, we snacked on appetizers and moved through the sea of people.
We were just in time to enter galleries 182-184. The exhibition was titled, They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950. Prior to the event, I read about the exhibition on the museum's website. I was excited to see the variety of work because it relates to what my some of my classes are currently studying.
My sixth graders were recently introduced to Jacob Lawrence, an artist of the Harlem Renaissance. While not an artist of this exhibition, nor from Chicago, students read about his work, The Migration Series. The 60-panel series depicts the migration of African Americans from the South to the North. The first panel of this series shows African American figures about to embark on the journey to one of three cities: New York, St. Louis, or Chicago.
I discovered that just as Harlem had developed a rich culture of the arts, so had Chicago. In fact this period of history is known as the Chicago Black Renaissance. I plan to learn more about this group of creative individuals to add to the sixth grade unit of American art in the mid-twentieth century. African American artists such as Eldzier Cortor, Charles Wright, and Archibald Motley, Jr. were artists I was not familiar with prior to this exhibition.
The galleries also featured work from Mexican and European immigrants to Chicago. Their paintings, prints, and sculptures told stories of Chicago's political and social climate from their unique perspectives. Many of these artists moved to Chicago for greater freedom. With freedom came the opportunity to create works of art that described personal experience and protested social conditions.
Below are images of artwork featured in They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950. On display March 3 - June 2, 2013 at The Art Institute of Chicago.
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