Scholars and artists on the complex history of Chicago’s public art [Audio]

Art, Publics, Politics: Legacies of the Wall of Respect was a symposium held at the Block Museum on April 28 and 29, 2017.  Presented in partnership between the Block Museum of Art and the Northwestern University Department of Art History the two day event brought together artists and scholars of the generations that followed the Wall of Respect to address connections—direct and indirect—between the Wall and their work or work they write and think about.   With over a dozen speakers the conference became the site for vigorous discussion of ways in which contemporary art and activism continue to engage with the issues and strategies the Wall embodied—as well as ways in which they diverge.

Art Public Politics was organized by Rebecca Zorach, an art historian, writer, and occasional curator who studies early modern European art, activist art, and art of the 1960s and 1970s, with particular interests in printmaking, gender and sexuality studies, and the visual arts of the Black Arts Movement in Chicago. She is co-author (with Abdul Alkalimat and Romi Crawford) of The Wall of Respect: Public Art and Black Liberation in 1960s Chicago. She is Mary Jane  Crowe Professor in Art and Art History at Northwestern. The symposium was supported by the Mary Jane Crowe Conference Fund, the Department of Art History, the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Department of Art Theory and Practice , the Department of African American Studies, the Program in American Studies, and the Northwestern Black Arts Initiative.

Listen below to hear the audio from this landmark event.

The Wall of Respect: An Introduction

Symposium welcome and introduction with Abdul Alkalimat and Romi Crawford, moderated by Amor Kohli.


History in the Present Tense

Presentations by Andres Hernandez and Nicole Marroquin on HistoricalF(r)ictions; Faheem Majeed and Andrew Schachman on The Floating Museum; and sound and visual artist Damon Locks on working in past, present, and future tense, moderated by James Britt.



Presentations by Marcus Sterling Alleyne on art and inspiration and Juarez Hawkins on being a Child of the Wall, moderated by Tempestt Hazel.


Inter/National Resources

Presentations by Alexis Salas on murals and street interventions in the Americas and Mechtild Widrich on the international circulation of visual protest culture, moderated by Rebecca Zorach.


Art and Affinity: Embedding Cultural Work in Urban Communities

Symposium keynote address by Dr. Adeola Enigbokan, University of Amsterdam



Presentations by Desi Mundo on Community Engagement vs Graffiti Abatement: Aerosol Murals in the 21st Century and Victoria Martinez on her urban installation experiments, moderated by Drea Howenstein.

Art as Direct Action

Presentations by Cauleen Smith on the Procession of Black Love and For The People (FTP) Artist Collective (Bria Royal and Monica Trinidad) on making movement art, moderated by Thomas Love



Top Image: Cauleen Smith, Procession of Black Love

Bottom Video: Artist Desi Mundo creates original work at Block Museum April 28, 2017

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