Grantee Spotlights

The nation’s first Black arts museum

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As we round out this final full week of #BlackHistoryMonth and head into #WomensHistoryMonth in March, the Joyce Foundation is highlighting the impactful work of some of our grantee partners, and their cultural influence in Chicago and throughout our region. The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) is located in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood and is the nation’s first Black arts museum. Located in a brownstone on an unassuming residential street on 38th & Michigan, SSCAC was founded in 1940 with the support of the federal Works Progress Administration. Of more than 100 community art centers established by the WPA’s Federal Art Project, SSCAC is the only one that remains open and is a Chicago Landmark that is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

SSCAC fully embraces its rich history in developing and showcasing some of the nation’s most influential Black artists, including founders Archibald Motley and Dr. Margaret Taylor-Burroughs (who also founded the DuSable Museum of African American History). But SSCAC has remained relevant and cultivated new audiences through strategic funding partnerships, and special events and exhibitions like the current WE ARE HERE: Honoring Women in the Center’s Collection, which runs through March 26, 2022. The exhibit features the works of founder Burroughs, and Espi Eph (Frazier), Madeline Haydon and Yasmin Sabu.

Said SSCAC archives and collections manager Lamar R. Gayles Jr., who curated the exhibit: “This exhibition provides us an opportunity to think about the materiality of Black women’s art, while also expanding biographical and visual information on Black women artists. The curatorial project permits the center an opportunity to reflect on impactful key women artists who have shaped and inspired persons in our institution and beyond.”

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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