Jump to content

Radical Futures

  • Curators: Juarez Hawkins with TRACE, Teens Re-Imagining Art, Community & Environment

Conversation Lead: Paola Aguirre, artist and founder of Borderless Studio

About this mini-exhibition

What is “radical”? Participants in this conversation explored how radicalism encompasses the need for inclusion and connection—often to something greater than the individual—as well as a desire to reveal long-hidden truths. They examined the role of the radical as both revolutionary and visionary, an artist creating light out of darkness. Depictions of young people, especially youth of color, are often negative. These portrayals obscure the truth about their lives: keen intelligence, awareness, and a need to be seen in a more positive light. Radical Futures shares the stories of Chicago youth who are both revolutionary and visionary, actively working to make a meaningful impact on their communities.

The objects on display are signifiers of memory. Some invoke narratives of elders and ancestors, others speak to the wonder of creativity. Collectively, they remind us of our shared humanity.

—Juarez Hawkins with TRACE, Teens Re-Imagining Art, Community & Environment

About this page

Below are the collectors’ words—unedited—about their objects.

Person Name: Jane Andrews
Object Name: Gold coin
Materials: Gold Dimensions: 1 × 1 × 1in.
Provenance: My mother actually found the coin as she was walking down the street.

- Jane Andrews, Park Manor

Gold coin

My mother gave it to me when she came home and told me not to lose it.

I selected this item, because jewelry was a risk that I did not want to take. Also, I wanted to pick something that I already kept on me.

Person Name: Ivan Salazar Object Name: Blue pen by Pentel Materials: Steel Dimensions: 6 × 6 × 0.5in.
Provenance: I actually borrowed it from my brother but never gave it back.

- Ivan Salazar, Chatham

Blue pen by Pentel

[The writing] then transpired into making different poems about our relationship, which then led to a whole book dedicated to that.

It has helped me through a lot in terms releasing emotions. Also just documenting the day to day of my own life, which I can reflect on in a later date.

Person Name: Marcus Davis Object Name: Fork bracelet with jade, 2014 Materials: Aluminum fork, jade stone Dimensions: 6 × 8 × 1in.
Provenance: Purchased from an artist at African Fest in Washington Park.

- Marcus Davis, East Garfield Park

Fork bracelet with jade, 2014

I’m a big fan of repurposing. To take a mundane fork and envision a piece of jewelry is a testament to the power of imagination. I’m also prone to losing jewelry, so it’s a personal accomplishment it remains in my possession.

My accessories are how I express my individuality.

Person Name: Aaliyah Sargent Object Name: Grandmother's key Materials: Brass Dimensions: 2 × 2 × 1in.
Provenance: I got this object from my grandmother. It was my great grandmother's.

- Aaliyah Sargent, Washington Heights

Grandmother’s key

I felt like this is one of the few things I have a personal connection too.

This is a spare key. My grandmother ha[s] the regular one. When her times come, she will give that one to me as well.

Person Name: Jon Veal Object Name: Sip Maker: Theaster Gates Studio Materials: Clay Dimensions: 2 × 2 × 3in.
Provenance: I got this object on the South Side at the Theaster Gates studio.

- Jon Veal, Humboldt Park

Sip by Theaster Gates Studio, 2015

Person Name: Jordan Campbell Object Name: Painter's palette Materials: Wood and acrylic paint
Dimensions: 0.5 × 22 × 8in.
Provenance: Michael's art store

- Jordan Campbell, Kenwood

Painter’s palette

This palette represents my hidden interest in painting.

I love to paint and painting inspires all of my practices as a multi-disciplinary artist.

- Grace Lul, Logan Square

Cotton headwrap

It reminds me of the legacy of my family and country despite being removed from it as an immigrant.

- Ari Antos (MCA TCA member), Avondale

Crusty bug collection

If there were one word to describe this object it would be Intricate.

- Vanessa Stokes, Austin

Wedding Day by Chester Sheard, 1967

This object is meaningful to me because it’s my family’s.

- Okicize Beauvais (MCA TCA Member), Humboldt Park

Special by my two friends, 2008

[This object is meaningful] because it comes from two people I really appreciate and it was a gift.

[This reflects my personal, cultural, and societal values] because I genuinely enjoy collecting small boxes and this is one of my most important ones.