By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Museum of Science and Industry celebrated African Americans contributions to science and art by inviting families to participate in the Black Creativity program. The program includes the museum’s Juried Art Exhibition and Innovation Gallery and Studio.
Manny Juarez, director of Science and Integrated Strategies at MSI, explains that the Juried Art Exhibition is “the longest continuous, probably largest, exhibit of African American professional artists. It has been hosted here continuously since 1970. That started as a project with the local Hyde Park artists and community members who approached the museum about hosting their program called Black Aesthetics.”
Now, the exhibit is a central piece of the Black Creativity program. This year, the museum features over 170 pieces from artists, including youth artists, which will make this year’s exhibit the largest in the museum’s history.
The Innovation Gallery features African American scientists, artists, engineers, tech professionals, business owners and community leaders in Chicago. One of the featured innovators was Shala, who was also the guest artist of the day in the Innovation Studio.
Olusola “Shala.” Akintunde is a Nigerian-American contemporary artist who is well known for Shala’s Bronzeville Solar Pyramid, located on 446 E. 47th St., which was commissioned by ComEd and the City of Chicago. Throughout Family Day, children and parents were invited to work with Shala on a visual art collage that celebrates the role of Black women in the Civil Rights Movement and current social movements.
When asked about why he wanted to partner with the Museum of Science and Industry, Shala said, “STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is very important to me for my people – people of color. I think that it is important to start to use our gifts, talents, culture, and art to start inspiring people of color into things outside of basketball and rap. This is one of the ways to do that, to bring arts and culture to technology is very important.”
As Shala’s interests in technology has grown, his work started to change because he wanted people to interact with technology in new and exciting ways. He hopes that his work can inspire people to shift from consuming technology to innovating technology.
If you were not able to come to Black Creativity Family Day, the Juried Art Exhibition and Innovation Studio will run until Feb. 24.