Hyde Park Art Center gets $50,000 grant to commission work commemorating South Side Community Arts Center

Artist Faheem Majeed (Photo courtesy of the Hyde Park Art Center)

Staff writer

The Chicago-based Joyce Foundation has granted the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) $50,000 to commission work by South Shore visual artist Faheem Majeed “to create a new monumental artwork, exhibition and related programming to address the important legacy of the South Side Community Art Center” (SSCAC).

Majeed served as executive director of the SSCAC from 2005 to 2011. According to a release, Majeed’s work will incorporate teenage artists, The Seldoms dance company and public programming; its focal point will be a charcoal rubbing of the SSCAC’s facade, 3831 S. Michigan Ave., to memorialize it.

“All my work that you see in some sort of way pays homage to the South Side Community Arts Center,” he said in an interview. A show at the HPAC “is just a continuation of my work, generally — no matter where I go, there’s going to be some mention of this institution in my work.”

Faheem said the project is essentially a whole-scale cataloging of the museum. He described his graphite and charcoal works as akin to photography or taking a rubbing of a tombstone and said the project’s public involvement component is inspired by community muralists in Chicago.

“Demise Shroud” is a 70-foot charcoal-and-graphite rubbing of the South Side Community Art Center’s wooden gallery floors, intended to memorialize the SSCAC and provide “an intimate critique on the survival of culturally specific institutions.” (Photo courtesy of Hyde Park Art Center)

“This grant will allow us to partner with Faheem to explore, challenge, and spark discussion around the underlying issues that contribute to a devaluation of historically marginalized voices, institutions and neighborhoods,” said Kate Lorenz, executive director of HPAC, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., in a statement. “Most importantly, the planned public programs will connect the audiences of Hyde Park Art Center and South Side Community Art Center more deeply, allowing us to stand together for the benefit of our shared community.”

Faheem, who was educated at Howard University in Washington and the University of Illinois at Chicago, is known for incorporating neighborhoods’ material makeup and materials like particle board, scrap metal and wood and discarded signs and billboards to address larger questions about civics and community.

Tracie Hall, director of the Joyce Foundation’s Culture Program, called Majeed “one of the foremost artists of his generation.”

“The questions that he opens through this commission about the roles that creative spaces play in documenting and sheltering our histories are important at a time when gentrification and economic displacement are impacting community art centers, along with the artists, cultural workers and residents that built and sustained them,” she said.

Majeed will begin making the piece in June, and the show is scheduled to open in August.

The SSCAC was founded in 1940, a year after HPAC, through the Works Project Administration Federal Art Project and is the only community art center of its kind still in operation. It was the first African American art museum in the country.