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202 | Photographing Black Life
202 | Photographing Black Life

Wailing Wall. Photo Courtesy of the artist.

Sat, Apr 29 | 12 – 1 PM
Art Institute of Chicago
Fullerton Hall
111 S Michigan Ave | Chicago, IL | 60603
  • Members: $12
  • Public: $15
  • Students and Teachers: $10

Cecil McDonald, Jr. is trying to right what he sees as a representational wrong: depictions of black people as either victims or heroes. His award-winning photographs focus on capturing the “extraordinarily ordinary” contours of black life. His debut monograph In the Company of Black, depicts artists, business owners, and teachers conducting their lives in the spaces they have created for themselves. McDonald is joined by famed photographer Dawoud Bey for a probing presentation of the way photography can diminish or enhance our experience of others.

A book signing will follow this program.

The annual Richard Gray Visual Art Series recognizes a significant gift from founding CHF board member and distinguished art dealer Richard Gray. This program is presented in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago.


Cecil McDonald Jr. uses photography, video, and text to explore masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic pursuits of Black culture. McDonald received his MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he is an adjunct professor. He has works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Harris Bank Collection. He’s received the Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, and the 3Arts Teaching Artist Award. In the Company of Black, his debut monograph, is due for spring 2017.

Dawoud Bey began his photography career in 1975 in Harlem, New York. His debut exhibition, "Harlem, USA" opened at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. His photographs have been displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and the Whitney Museum of American Art. A twenty-year survey of his photographs was organized by the Walker Art Center in 1995, which toured museums throughout the United States and Great Britain through 1998. He is represented by galleries in Chicago, New York, and Stockholm, Sweden.

  • Richard Gray Visual Art Series
  • In the Company of Black
  • 4/29/2017