- United Kingdom
More informationRita Coburn Whack tells the story of how three generations of painters, sculptors, poets and printmakers forged a new identity in Chicago's 'Black Metropolis'.
Chicago, de facto black capital of America. Destination for the largest internal migration in American history as ten's of thousands of black American's left the crippling racism and poverty of the South for the less limited opportunities of the big city.
The burgeoning 'black metropolis' on the city's Southside underwent a renaissance that nurtured painters, sculptors, poets and printmakers. Largely rejected by the White American art world centred in New York, frequently excluded from both studying and exhibiting in their own city and keen to redefine the African in America these artists were the dreamers of the Black Metropolis.
To represent the race, to redefine their place in this white world and to reclaim dignity often drove
these artists. From the jazz age came the vibrancy of Archibald Motley's canvases of city life & the epic murals of William Edouard Scott. In 1940, at the height of Roosevelt's New Deal 'Negro Art' was firmly on the map with both The American Negro Exposition and the opening of the Southside Community Arts Centre at the heart of Chicago's Bronzeville. Now artists like Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, Margaret Burroughs and poet Gwendolyn Brooks had a space to call their own.
The 'Red Scare' of the 1950's would partly silence these voices but the new,bold creators of the Black Art Movement and AfriCobra would place art in the forefront of the struggle for recognition and respect once again. Emmy award winning Rita Coburn Whack enters the still functioning Southside Community Arts Centre and hears from those who helped create new dreams for the 'Black Metropolis.