Museum of Science And Industry’s Black Creativity Art Contest Opens For Students | WBEZ
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High School Artists Can Now Submit Art For MSI’s Black Creativity Exhibit

Works of art showing the creative expression of Chicago’s young black artists have lined the walls of the Museum of Science and Industry’s signature black art exhibit for the past seven years.

And this year, the youth category for the “Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition” was the largest it’s ever been.

“We dedicated this space to our student gallery so that we could accommodate more youth work,” MSI arts and creative manager Tiffany Malone said in January. “I’m always proud of our student artists.”

That contest for high school students is now open again — but earlier. Instead of waiting until the fall, African American artists age 18 and under, or in ninth through 11th grade this school year, can now submit their work by July 31 to be considered for next year’s exhibition.

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Arionne Nettles/WBEZ
Roby's winning piece, "Young Thug," is seen on the wall in January.

Entering its 50th year, the “Juried Art Exhibition” is the nation’s longest-running exhibition of African American art and presents over 100 works of art from emerging and professional artists every year. The program opened its youth category in 2012 to encourage younger artists to take advantage of the opportunity to use the exhibit as a platform for their work.

Manny Juarez, MSI’s director of science and integrated strategies, said the museum hopes the new early submission process will encourage students to enter work they are creating this school year for next year’s exhibit. Even if they don’t continue to take a formal art class at their school in the fall, Juarez said, they’ll still have the opportunity to submit.

“So, it's just opening the availability … and reducing any sort of barriers in terms of logistics or timing for youth to participate,” Juarez said.

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JB Spector/Museum of Science and Industry
Youth artist Erica Neal, of Bolingbrook High School, won second place in the youth category this year. MSI arts and creative manager Tiffany Malone explained in January that Neal's piece, "The Cycle of Masculinity," represents different generations of a family.

And the continued opportunity to extend MSI’s science-focused history with art, Juarez said, is another way to draw students who might not think they're interested in science to the museum.

“We've found through research and through surveys that presenting creative work or art — in this case, ‘Juried Art’ — to people who visit the museum, it heightens their awareness of science and of the experience they have in looking at different topics around STEM and design,” Juarez said. “And so that, we think, also carries over to our youth that we work with.”

Youth Black Creativity 4
Arionne Nettles/WBEZ
By accepting submissions earlier, the Museum of Science and Industry hopes to draw even more students to participate in the Black Creativity program.

Students can submit up to four works, created in any visual medium including architecture and design, ceramics, digital art, drawing, mixed media, painting, photography and video, print media, sculpture and textiles.

After the early submission period, students will again be able to submit their work in the fall. The “Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition” opens Jan. 13, 2020.

Arionne Nettles is a digital producer at WBEZ covering arts and culture. Follow her on Twitter at @arionnenettles.

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