BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Faheem Majeed

For his first solo museum exhibition, artist Faheem Majeed (American, b. 1976) presents sculptural works made of materials that reflect the makeup of his Chicago neighborhood of South Shore, materials like particle board, scrap metal, wood, discarded signs, and billboard remnants. Majeed breathes new life into these often overlooked and devalued materials to create works that engage issues of civic-mindedness, community activism, and institutional racism. Also as part of the exhibition, Majeed invites different collaborators to activate a room-sized installation created specifically for the exhibition through events and performances that will be held periodically throughout the run of the show, creating a platform within the gallery to express different voices, cultural perspectives, and art-making strategies.

A lot of my work embodies the particleboard that’s used to board up houses. In the same sort of way, all my materials come from Home Depot. They’re not super precious. You find them on the side of the road. You find them on a boarded-up house. And then I do a lot of etching. I embed it in there. So it kind of looks like a tool. It’s in-between a tool, a piece of art, or not being completed, meaning that there’s work to be done. The work is still happening. The neighborhood is still changing.

And I may have the best intentions about doing amazing things in my neighborhood, but not everybody is going to be happy about those best intentions. So I want to absorb that. I’m willing to pick apart my project at any given moment based on feedback. And in an interesting and engaging way in order to be inclusive. So it’s like, I hear your voice; I don’t always agree with your voice, but I hear it. Now let me embody it, and let me think about it. It’s like figuring out some type of conversation on how to kind of bridge that gap. And there are artists that are trying to figure that out. So it’s like, let’s work together and see if we can figure out some interesting and engaging ways, because the artists have the flexibility to do experiments publicly and fail publicly.

  • Our job as the artist isn’t necessarily to solve anything,
  • I think it’s just to create a platform or a position
  • for others to move in and try and have an impact.
  • We’re the catalysts for change sometimes.
  • We’re not the change. We’re the catalysts.