A group of Chicago artists is creating a unifying voice in a new collective geared toward strength in numbers. The New Vanguard Coalition is committed to uplifting Chicago creatives.
“We believe that creatives of color are responsible for the popular dominant narrative in culture that we all benefit from,” said The New Vanguard’s Pilar McQuirter. “It’s important they aren’t viewed as a commodity, but rather centered and supported in the work.”
The New Vanguard is now showcasing its artists in a space that also highlights the city’s diversity: the WNDR Museum in the West Loop.
“It’s a dedicated space in Chicago with museums that are representing local Chicago artists,” McQuirter said. “This is a first-of-a-kind experience for a lot of our artists, so them being in this space not only signifies that they can do whatever they thought they couldn’t do in their own studio, but also it’s a dedicated space in Chicago.”
The coalition’s artists are taking turns occupying a space within the museum to showcase their current work. For Nikko Washington, it’s the first time he has ever taken his ideas from a canvas to a physical installation.
“So this series I’ve been doing has been over a year-and-a-half span, stemming from my work in studio … with my paintings relating to boxing and hand-eye coordination with discipline and self-discipline that I attribute to the martial arts and the boxing I did as a kid,” Washington said.
Washington’s work examines how people of color can be portrayed in these spaces.
“There’s no better way to examine, I guess, the history of America then through a lens of sports, and especially boxing, to me,” Washington said.
As the New Vanguard Coalition and its artists work to create a more conversational space, Washington said he is grateful for the future conversations their work will facilitate.
Washington’s “Battle Royale” is on display at the WNDR Museum, 1130 W. Monroe St.
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Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.