The Chicago Housing Authority provides homes to more than 63,000 households while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods throughout the city.
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Njideka Akunyili Crosby
July 22, 2021–June 30, 2022
The CHA’s Minnie Riperton Apartments on the South Side serve as a public venue for Toward Common Cause, with two collage-paintings by Njideka Akunyili Crosby reproduced as large format murals on the building’s facade. The installation of the murals is the result of a collaborative curatorial process led by a cohort of young people from the joint Smart Museum of Art and CHA Teen Program. Starting in summer 2020 and continuing through the academic year, these students, all residents of CHA housing, did several virtual studio visits with Akunyili Crosby, narrowed in on a selection of images, and then worked with Minnie Riperton’s community of senior residents to select two works: I Still Face You (2015) and Home: Say It Loud (2017).
The teens explored themes of home and community empowerment throughout their engagement with Akunyili Crosby, which was especially prescient as they worked remotely from their homes in lockdown. The residents chose two images by popular vote, responding to the recognizable domestic interiors and reminiscing on their own family relations.
The inter-generational and creative collaboration also extends beyond the installation of the murals. The cohort of Smart-CHA teens engaged with their elders on a related oral history project that will be included in the National Public Housing Museum archives and activated through programming. This coming summer, the teen program will design posters that will be displayed in bus shelters across the South Side in conjunction with another Toward Common Cause initiative, Rick Lowe’s Black Wall Street Journey.
In addition, elementary students from Hendricks Academy, across the street from the Riperton Apartments, will dedicate the coming year to engaging with the artworks and the senior residents.
This project was realized in collaboration with Andrew Brandon, Saryah Dyson, Myah Jackson, Annika Lane, Jaden Roundtree, MaKynna Waller, and the residents of the Minnie Riperton Apartments, with the support of Jason Pallas, Nick Jackson, Cinque Carson, and Greg Valdespino at the Smart Museum as well as Shatara Nowling, Gionna Branch, Stephanie France, Dorian Figgers, and Ebony Campbell at the CHA.