By TONIA HILL
The Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Black Creativity program is back in session this year.
Black Creativity began in January and extends through February, which is Black History Month. The program includes scientific breakthroughs and creative works of African Americans showcased through art exhibitions and hands-on workshops.
Featured exhibits include the Juried Art Exhibition, the nation’s longest-running exhibition of African American art. The gallery displays 100 artworks from professional and aspiring African American artists. MSI has run the exhibit annually since 1970.
“Juried Art was started by a group of artists from Hyde Park,” said Manny Juarez, director of science and integrative strategies at MSI. At the time it was known as Black Aesthetics. “It’s a mixed media exhibit with both sculpture and two-dimensional pieces.”
This year, there were over 400 entries for the Juried Art Exhibition the submissions were narrowed down to 120 finalists including 20 student artists from Chicago and the northern Indiana area.
From the exhibition, a panel of judges will select first, second and third place overall show winners as well as winners in each medium category and overall in the youth category. The winners will be recognized at a Juried Art Reception that will be held on Thursday, Feb. 15, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
New this year to the Black Creativity Program is the Innovator Gallery, which is a part of the Innovation Studio. The Innovator Gallery features eight Chicagoans who are remaking Chicago and inspiring the next generation. There are doctors, computer scientists and community activists and artists within the group. Each person volunteers and works alongside youth in the Innovation Studio.
Students from Chicago Public Schools twice a day come into the studio where they work on projects that helps in sparking their creativity with science and learning.
The goal said Juarez is to show students that you can make a difference through not just the sciences, but through art as well.
“We’re trying to inspire students and children to find their creative selves through a variety of mediums,” Juarez said.
In the Innovation Studio, guests create solutions while learning about scientific and technological breakthroughs of African-American pioneers in science, technology, engineering, and medicine.
Dr. Monica Peek is an associate professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago and an associate director for the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translational Research. Peek is one of eight included in the Innovator Gallery.
Peek assisted a group of students last Thursday in the Innovation Studio.
As one of the featured innovators Peek said, she wants “to be a role model to students who look like me and to let them know that the path is doable. I need them to know that they can.”
Guests will have the chance to speak with experts in the arts and sciences through a career showcase on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the school day, MSI will also host Jr. Science Cafés where school groups can reserve 30-minute sessions with a scientist or engineer during Black Creativity.
MSI also hosted a Black Creativity Gala last month to raise funds to support programming offered within the exhibit.
The Juried Art Exhibition and Innovation Studio will be open for viewing through Wednesday, Feb. 21.
These programs are all included in Museum Entry. Illinois residents can receive free Museum Entry on Feb. 7-8, 12-15, 20-22, 26-27.
MSI is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.