This spring, the Elmhurst Art Museum, just outside of Chicago, is hosting two shows revealing historical and contemporary efforts for equitable housing in the region. The exhibitions, In Focus: The Chicago Freedom Movement and the Fight for Fair Housing and There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as Memorial, foreground the inequitable and bias-ridden history of the Chicago public housing system along with the disparities in housing made available to Black people in the suburbs of Chicago.
John McKinnon, executive director of EAM, has stated, “Fair housing is often talked about as a city issue, but reports show decades-long discriminatory practices in suburban and rural areas as well…We are honored to present the important work of artists, activists, and partner organizations as a collective effort that can affect change.”
There is Black Housing in the Future will be exhibited in the Mies van der Rohe–designed McCormick House. The installation, designed by Pittsburgh-based Alisha Wormsley and Chicago-based Ayanah Moor, aims to be a catalyst for activism and education in support of mothers fighting for the future of Black housing. Inspired by Afrofuturist writings and artists, There is Black Housing in the Future affirms the visibility of Black communities across space and time, and references national, community, and grassroots organizations, like Moms 4 Housing, that advocate for affordable, dignified housing for all.
In Focus: The Chicago Freedom Movement and the Fight for Fair Housing, is a photo exhibition of 40 historic images by Wheaton-based photographer and activist Bernard Kleina alongside photographs of the summer 2020 protests by 21-year-old Chicago photographer Vashon Jordan Jr. The pairing of these materials aims to highlight the 1965-67 movement led by Martin Luther King Jr., James Bevel, and Al Raby, which inspired the Fair Housing Act of 1968. As a community effort by the museum in collaboration with the Design Museum of Chicago, EAM’s Teen Council, and York Community High School’s Black Student Union, the exhibition will also feature photographs by local teens in dialogue with quotes about fair housing from historic and contemporary activists and leaders.
There is Black Housing in the Future: Equitable Public Housing as a Memorial
In Focus: The Chicago Freedom Movement and the Fight for Fair Housing
Elmhurst Art Museum
150 South Cottage Hill Avenue
Through June 20