Through a variety of media, artists in Chicago responded to the injustices exposed by the pandemic's sociopolitical ramifications.
by NICK GARCIA
Chicago native Nick Garcia, whose emcee name is Bob Rok, wrote and produced the hip-hop song, Storefront Glass in collaboration with North Carolina artist DJ Doug. The song is based on text and video dispatched form Nick’s brother, who worked security at the Merchandise Mart during the June 2020 protests in Chicago.
HOVER FOR LYRICS
Storefront glass / bursts onto the city streets / A country shouting loudly and it wonders if you’re listening / Cautious and Exhausted / As it mumbles its soliloquy / Buildings burn like cigarettes / Your leader gassed the ministry / No problem with elections / It’s the options that you giving me / It’s why these rock stars turn cop cars to chimneys / Bobby wide awake / While you sleeping with the enemy / Power to the people / Till we’re equal over everything / Cause nothings ever banned like a hand with a wedding ring / Choke a man to death and televise the evidence / Oedipus on reddit / Like they should’ve practiced etiquette / The proof is in the pudding and the puddings full of medicine / You hopping off the fence / I’m a menace to the menacing / Fuck Joe Biden / What the fuck’s the point of settling / Build an institution and the senate would be trembling / I’m sick to death of centrists and everything they’re peddling / You people aren’t the answer / It’s the question that’s unsettling / What is freedom worth if it never leads to better things? / I’d rather kill your kings than keep voting for your presidents / I’d rather clip its wings than add wings upon my residence / Where brutality is legal the laws become irrelevant / You want to start an era in a period of sentences? / Beg for validation that you traded for your relevance / Mimicking your masters cause their slavery was elegant / It’s why you getting jacked / In a room full of elephants / My thoughts are very sobering / You coming down from sedatives / Knock before you enter and do not disturb the Mexican / I swear to God you motherfucks are going to be the death of him.
"Los Difuntos” By Nicolas
Mexican Sugar Skull Created by Diana Sorro Baeza (the artist’s sister in law)
Materials used: Ceramic, Acrylic, and Lacquer
"My brother is ex-military and works for a private security firm downtown near the merchandise mart, and he was down there just securing the buildings and riverwalk, and just like observing [the protests and police - he was sending me updates and photos about what was going on…the song was about everything that was going on and really, how scary it was to not be white at that time." - Nick Garcia
PORTRAIT OF GEORGE FLOYD
June 2020 | Acrylic on canvas
Nicholas Barron is a Chicago-based singer, songwriter, guitarist, and painter. When his music gigs were put on hold during the pandemic, Nicholas established creative collaborations with Chicago artists Makeba Kedem-Dubose (Barrkeba) and Peven Everett (Barroneverett arts collab).
"I painted this portrait of George Floyd shortly after he was killed and during the uprisings that followed. [...] You’ll see there is a rat, or maybe a cat in his mouth - the idea of Black men not having a voice, or not supposed to speak up. He’s got Martin Luther King Jr. in one ear, and then a bird, which could be screeching at him, in the other ear…living every day of his life being told he’s less-than." - Nicholas Barron
WHITE SUPREMACY IS...
by BEN BLOUNT
Ben Blount is a Chicago-based artist, designer and letterpress printer. His work often explores questions of race and identity and the stories we tell ourselves about living in America. Ben is a believer in the power of the printed word and shares his passion for print and design speaking to students and educators around the country.
All the Rage - a 14''x17'' letterpress print poster from Blount's 50+ poster series. Print was purchased by Museum from the artist (#T2021.1-3).
Exhausting - a 14''x17'' letterpress print poster from Blount's 50+ poster series. Print was purchased by Museum from the artist (#T2021.1-3).
“I wanted to just talk about white supremacy in lots of different ways. I mean one of the things is [...] when you say white supremacy people get, well their radar goes up and you think of people wearing hoods and KKK and white people who really hate black people, but… I started using White Supremacy more than racism, and the idea of putting that in front of people’s faces and allowing them to deal with, in some ways, all those different words…” - Ben Blount