Join Us: Building an Anti-Racist Art Ecosystem Event Series

Join the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) for the first of three dialogues on how to build an anti-racist art ecosystem. This first event will focus on SAIC’s home: Chicago. We’ll convene a panel of some of the city’s art and design leaders to discuss the impact of segregation, bright spots in anti-racist work that can serve as guiding lights, and how we can work together to remove barriers to entry for those who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. 
The discussion will be moderated by Jina Valentine, SAIC’s associate professor of printmedia, and will feature the following panelists:

Rashawn Griffin, Practicing Artist and Visiting Professor, SAIC
Kavi Gupta, Owner and Director, Kavi Gupta Gallery
Tracie D. Hall, Executive Director, American Library Association
Jeffreen M. HayesPh.D, Executive Director, ThreeWalls
Felicia Mings, SAIC Alum, Curator, Art Gallery of York University
  Wednesday, April 28
12:00–1:45 p.m. CT

This event series is free and open to the public. A Zoom webinar link and password will be sent to all registrants prior to the event.

SAIC’s Toward an Anti-Racist Art Ecosystem Conference Series will convene three dialogues on anti-racism featuring art and design industry leaders from various backgrounds, including art and design education, museum practices, galleries, auction houses, practicing artists, and more. The first of the three events will take place virtually in the spring of 2021 and will focus on Chicago’s art ecosystem. In fall 2021, the series’ scope will broaden to include nationally based leaders in the arts, and in spring 2022, internationally-based leaders.

The Toward an Anti-Racist Art Ecosystem Conference Series is generously supported by Hindman Auctions.

Meet Our Panelists

Jina Valentine is a mother, visual artist, writer, and associate professor of printmedia at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her independent practice involves language translation, mining content from physical and digital archives, and experimental strategies for humanizing data-visualization. Her work has received recognition and support from the Graham Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, and Art Matters, among others. She has recently co-authored essays for Thresholds Journal (MIT Architecture School); Wikipedia @20 (MIT Press); and Art21 magazine. Valentine cofounded Black Lunch Table (BLT) with Heather Hart. First staged in 2005 in Skowhegan, BLT has been hosted by cultural and academic institutions nationally and internationally and has received support from foundations including the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Capital, and Logan Foundation. Valentine received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her MFA from Stanford University.

Rashawn Griffin uses diverse materials such as bed sheets, tassels, food, and flora to create large-scale sculptures, paintings, and installations that explore the relationship between architecture and painting. His work pushes the boundaries between object and installation, challenging viewers to engage in their past experiences. Griffin was a 2005–06 resident of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s artist-in-residence program. An MFA recipient from Yale University, Griffin’s work has been exhibited widely, including the 2008 Whitney Biennial; R.S.V.P, the Studio Museum in Harlem; Freeway Balconies, the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany; and THREADS: Textiles and Fiber in the works of African American Artists, EK Projects, Beijing, China, curated by Collier Schorr and Lowery Stokes Sims. Griffin was recently the subject of the solo exhibition A hole-in-the-wall country at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas, and he participated in the exhibition Minimal Baroque at Rønnebæksholm in Næstved, Denmark.

Kavi Gupta is founder and owner of Kavi Gupta gallery, a leading contemporary art gallery focused on amplifying voices of diverse and underrepresented artists to expand the canon of art history. Through innovative and ambitious exhibitions, multimedia programming, and rigorous publications, Kavi Gupta gallery fosters an evolving conversation among international communities about art and ideas. The gallery operates multiple museum-quality exhibition spaces in Chicago and in New Buffalo, Michigan, in addition to a large-scale warehouse and conservation center in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. The gallery’s publishing imprint, Kavi Gupta Editions, designs and publishes high-quality books, exhibition catalogues, academic editions, and monographs and partners with art publishing leaders such as Skira, Mousse, Phaidon, and D.A.P. In addition to hosting more than a dozen major exhibitions each year, and participating in international art fairs such as Frieze New York and London, Frieze Masters, Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Basel Hong Kong, EXPO Chicago, and the New York Armory Show, Kavi Gupta hosts artist talks, facilitates programming in support of philanthropic causes, and regularly brings artists, curators, and collectors together with academics and experts in the contemporary art field.

In February 2020, Tracie D. Hall was appointed the American Library Association’s (ALA) 10th executive director in its 143-year history, becoming the first African American woman in the role. Over the years, she has worked at the Seattle Public Library, the New Haven Free Public Library, Hartford Public Library, and Queens Public Library. In 1998, she was among the first cohort of ALA’s Spectrum Scholars, a grant program to diversify librarianship, and she served as the director of ALA’s Office for Diversity in the early 2000s. Highlighted as a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal, Hall recently directed the culture portfolio at the Joyce Foundation, developing grant programs designed to foster greater equity and diversity in arts administration and catalyze and scale neighborhood-based arts venues, cultural programming, and creative entrepreneurship. In 2020, Hall was appointed to serve on the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council. Her past academia roles include assistant dean of Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and visiting professor at Wesleyan University and Southern Connecticut State University, among others. Hall holds an MLIS from the Information School at the University of Washington, an MA in International and Area Studies with an emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa from Yale University, and dual bachelor’s degrees in law and society and Black studies from UC Santa Barbara.

Jeffreen M. Hayes, PhD, merges her administrative, curatorial, and academic practices into her cultural leadership of supporting artists and community development. An advocate for racial inclusion, equity, and access, Hayes has extensive curatorial experience including SILOS; Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman; AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People; AFRICOBRA: Nation Time, which was an official collateral event for the 2019 Venice Biennial; and Embracing the Lens: BlackFlorida project . A 2019 ROOT 100 honoree, Hayes also speaks and writes about art history, Black art, and arts activism; she is a past TEDx speaker (“Arts Activism in Simple Steps”), and her writing can be found in several art criticism publications. Under Hayes’s leadership as executive director of Threewalls, the organization develops artistic platforms to manifest its vision of connecting segregated communities, people, and experiences.

Felicia Mings is curator at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU). Formerly, she was the Academic Curator in the Department of Academic Engagement and Research at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she co-curated Malangatana: Mozambique Modern (2020) and The People Shall Govern! Medu Art Ensemble and the Anti-Apartheid Poster (2019). She also led initiatives that fostered artist and student engagement with the museum’s collection, including the Andrew W. Mellon Summer Academy and the Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program. Born and raised in Canada, Mings earned her MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her Honors BA in Art and Art History from the University of Toronto and Sheridan College. 
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