University Galleries of Illinois State University is pleased to present Making Our Space: Members of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists through August 1, 2021. This exhibition is free and open to the public with a reservation. Free virtual exhibition tours are also available. Contact or (309) 438-5487 to schedule.

Making Our Space: Members of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists is a group exhibition featuring 14 members of the ever-expanding Peoria-based artists guild, often referred to as PGOBA. The artist collective was organized in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd—and in response to nationwide uprisings and the Black Lives Matter movement—to focus on celebrating and uplifting the voices of Black artists in Peoria. This exhibition explores Black identity, Black joy, and Black community through painting, drawing, graphic design, illustration, printmaking, photography, video, performance, and poetry.

Participating artists are Kevin J. Bradford, Krystopher Dudley Brown, Alexa Cary, Kameron Hoover, David L. Jennings, Chantell Marlow, Alexander Martin, Erick Minnis, Morgan Mullen, Hannah Offutt, Brenda Pagan, Rose de Peoria, Kayla Thomas, and Quinton Thomas.

In addition to the individual works by participating artists, two major collaborations will be featured: Poets of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists and Collective Subconscious. Poets of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists, a spoken-word poetry video featuring PGOBA poets Krystopher Dudley Brown, David L. Jennings, Hannah Offutt, Brenda Pagan, and Rose de Peoria will be on view in the exhibition and available online. Produced by videographer Kayla Thomas and co-directed by Brown, Jennings, and Thomas, the video is set in Brenda Pagan’s home, the location of many PGOBA meetings. The poets perform a selection of original poems, each within a different room of the 1859 Italianate house. Notebooks, journals, and scraps of paper with preliminary verses will be displayed near the video. Collective Subconscious is a large-scale diptych painting of PGOBA members in various yoga poses while motifs of the cosmos weave in, out, and around the figures, representing the community they made and found with one another. Imagery in the painting stems from PGOBA’s collaboration with Soulside Healing Arts, a nonprofit community-based yoga studio that partnered with members to focus on Black wellness.

The exhibition will also premiere Carving Our Space: New Kids on the Block, a yearlong remote print collaboration organized by Normal Editions, a nonprofit print research facility founded in 1976 within the Wonsook Kim School of Art. Through this project, PGOBA artists—many having never made a print before—partnered with Normal Editions printmakers to create an edition of woodcut prints. Each PGOBA artist carved a woodblock image which was then printed in an edition of identical impressions by the collaborating printer(s). Two exciting Normal Editions milestones were reached during this project: Alexander Martin being the 150th artist to collaborate on a project and Quinton Thomas’s edition being the 300th project in the 45 years of creating works collaboratively with guest artists.

The portfolio consists of 10 prints and one video performance. A series of recorded artist talks, produced in conjunction with this collaboration, will be released online during the exhibition. Participating PGOBA artists are: Kevin J. Bradford, Alexa Cary, Kameron Hoover, Chantell Marlow, Alexander Martin, Erick Minnis, Morgan Mullen, Hannah Offutt, Brenda Pagan, and Quinton Thomas. Normal Editions team members this year are Interim Director and Master Printer Veda Rives Aukerman; Associate Professor of Art Morgan Price; Professor of Art Sarah Smelser; M.F.A students Nicole Arnold, Peytin Fitzgerald, and Erika Shiba; and B.F.A student Jess Dowell.

Early Career Black Artists, a virtual panel discussion, will feature founding members of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists: Alexander Martin, Morgan Mullen, and Brenda Pagan. This panel will highlight entrepreneurial endeavors, studio practices, artwork sales, teaching experiences, and community outreach, as well as the motivation for starting the guild. Aaron Caldwell, an artist, educator, and graduate assistant at University Galleries, will moderate this conversation.

Making Our Space: Members of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists is organized by Jessica Bingham, University Galleries’ curator. The exhibition and programming are sponsored in part by grants from the Illinois Arts Council Agency (awarded to both University Galleries and Normal Editions) and Alice and Fannie Fell Trust (awarded to Normal Editions).

For events and programming, visit University Galleries website. Making Our Space: Members of the Peoria Guild of Black Artists is one of three exhibitions featured this summer at University Galleries of Illinois State University.

University Galleries

University Galleries, a unit in the Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts, is located at 11 Uptown Circle, Suite 103, at the corner of Beaufort and Broadway streets. Parking is available in the Uptown Station parking deck located directly above University Galleries.

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