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A Landmark of Work: African Americans in Decorative Arts

July 11 @ 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Join us for a discussion in conjunction with our exhibition, The United Colors of Robert Earl Paige. How are artists currently using traditional or historical methods of production in contemporary design? Artists and art historians discuss the pivotal contributions of African Americans to the canon of decorative arts like textile design, jewelry and metalworking, and woodworking. Panelists include artists, Robert Paige and Daniel Overbey, studio manager and designer for Norman Teague Design Studios, and Art Conservator and Researcher, Lamar Gayles. The conversation will be moderated by writer, educator, and Radicle Curatorial Resident, Dr. Rikki Byrd.

Register for the event here. 

About the Moderator: 

Dr. Rikki Byrd is a writer, educator, and curator who works across the academy, arts, and fashion industries. She has participated in curatorial projects with the South Side Community Art Center, Block Museum of Art, SkyART, and most recently curated the fashion presentations in the traveling exhibition The Culture: Hip Hop & Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, co-organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum, and Lawrence Agyei: DRILL at Blanc Gallery and Expo Chicago. Her research focuses on Black aesthetic practices including fashion, performance, and contemporary art, and she has lectured at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis. She is the founder of the Black Fashion Archive and co-founder of the Fashion and Race Syllabus. Her writing appears across exhibition catalogs, academic journals, books, and arts and fashion media such as Hyperallergic, Cultured, and Teen Vogue. Rikki completed her PhD in the Department of Black Studies at Northwestern University. Her work has been supported by fellowships and residencies from the Modern Ancient Brown Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, University of Chicago’s Arts+Public Life, and the Presidential Fellowship at Northwestern University.

About the Panelists: 

Robert Earl Paige

Robert Earl Paige (b.1937, Chicago) is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and educator actively making work that challenges the distinction between fine art and craft by combining elements from African aesthetic traditions, modernist painting, Bauhaus architecture, and vernacular invention in his objects, collages, and fabrics. He earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and began his career working for the architectural design firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill before transitioning to creating commercial objects and fashion. He has partnered with commercial enterprises such as the Italian fashion house Fiorio and Sears, Roebuck and Co. department stores to produce scarves and interior decor respectively. His signature line the Dakkabar Collection was sold nationwide in over 100 stores and included several bedroom and home furnishing pieces inspired by West African imagery with a contemporary palette in the 1970s. 

Early in the Black Arts Movement, Paige participated and believes strongly in its ideology of community participation in art and culture, which continues to be of focus in his pedagogy today. He has taught art and design principles to youth through Gallery 37 and is a frequent lecturer with the nomadic Black Arts Movement School Modality. Paige has been an artist-in-residence for many organizations, including the Cabrini Green neighborhood alliance, DuSable Museum of African American History, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York), Ndebele Foundation (South Africa) and Hyde Park Art Center.  Works by Robert Paige have been exhibited at Salon94 Design and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, and in Chicago at the SMART Museum of Art and the Chicago Cultural Center, among others.

Daniel Overbey

Daniel Overbey is an artist and designer dedicated to enhancing everyday life through thoughtful creations. Specializing in visually sleek and functionally fluid furniture and housewares, Daniel aims to facilitate a sense of comfort, and seamlessness in daily life.
Through stylized artwork and elegant design, his work aspires to spark a ripple effect of contentment, and mindfulness, enriching the lives of those who engage with his pieces. Daniel Overbey is also the manager and designer for Norman Teague Design Studios.

Lamar Gayles

LaMar Gayles (a native son of the South Side of Chicago) is an archaeologist, independent curator, material culture scholar, and technical art historian. He is currently enrolled in the PhD program in Preservation Studies at the University of Delaware. Gayles completed a MA in Museum and Exhibition Studies from University of Illinois at Chicago while holding two separate positions: Archive and Collections Manager at the South Side Community Art Center and Executive Director at the Union Street Gallery. Gayles earned a Cum Laude BA with a triple major (art history, archaeology, and ethnic studies) from St. Olaf College. He has researched and curated exhibitions on Black American material culture and its historical progressions from the seventeenth century to the twenty-first century. Gayles’s research methodology combines archaeometry, arts-based research, conservation science, art historical analysis, ethnography, historical reproduction, and technical studies to explore material and visual culture.

Image above by Beto DeFrietas


Hyde Park Art Center
5020 South Cornell Avenue, Chicago, IL 60615
Chicago, IL 60615 US
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