Rashid Johnson, Souls of Black Folk, 2010, black soap, wax, books, vinyl, brass, shea butter, plants, space rocks, mirrors, gold paint, stained wood, 9' 6“ x 10' 4 3/4” x 2' 3/8".


“Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks”

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
220 East Chicago Avenue
April 14–August 5

Curated by Julie Rodrigues Widholm

A homecoming for the young Chicago-born artist, Rashid Johnson’s first major museum survey comprises approximately forty works from the past decade. Suggesting new connections between populism, modernism, and the occult, the exhibition includes self- and community portraits made using early photographic printing technologies; shrinelike installations of plants, gilded rocks, shea butter, and album covers; as well as recent large-scale paintings and newly commissioned floor works that build on the artist’s facility with abstraction. The show’s title—borrowed from the 1969 avant-garde jazz record by the Art Ensemble of Chicago—reflects the artist’s conceptual and stylistic interests in black radical intellectual history and social organizations, highlighting the tension between cultural vanguardism and democratization. These themes will be further developed in the catalogue, which includes contributions by Widholm, pop intellectual Touré, and art historian Ian Bourland.