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Date & Time

Saturday, October 9, 2021 - 1:45 PM to Saturday, November 20, 2021 - 1:45 PM


Arts Incubator, 301 E Garfield Blvd, Chicago, IL




New Witnesses: 2021 Artists-in-Residence Culminating Exhibition at the Washington Park Arts Incubator

Visitation to the Arts Incubator will be limited capacity, timed reservations during special hours: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 3:00pm - 7:00pm. Each viewing is 45 minutes long, and our groups are limited to 15 at a time.


“Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.” - Zadie Smith, from White Teeth


New Witnesses asks the viewer to consider a more manifold approach to history, where time happens within us, as well as around us. Our bodies, our interiority, and the endless spheres outside of ourselves all mark this passage differently. For McClenon, Ogbara, and o’neal, there is power in these interior histories, and in the body, to not just traverse time but to warp it, reject it, and, at times quite surprisingly, hold space for tenderness within it. This kind of time travel explores what it is to see, to be seen, to be marked in time, or to refuse to be seen at all.

New Witnesses is the culminating exhibition of the 2021 cohort of the Arts + Public Life (APL) and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC) Artists in Residence program. These works were produced during a ten-month residency, while navigating the continuing restrictions and pressures of the ongoing pandemic.

zakkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal’s practice lingers in spaces of interiority, love, private selfhood, reconciliation, joy, and belonging. Over the span of this ten month residency, o’neal has been re-writing by hand a short story by Lorraine Hansberry that was published in 1957: The Anticipation of Eve. This mark-making practice loops o’neal through time not just to Hansberry herself, but the alter-ego she seems to create in her lesbian short stories, and resonates within an intimate pantheon of Black queer figures. In these works, the alter ego is not just a way to relieve a heavy heart of internal conflict, but a means to transcend beyond marginality and into a place of elsewhere, or even to tenderness.

A.J. McClenon offers a selection of multimedia works pulled from an in-progress short story and film collection: VEGA. VEGA is presented as a dystopian future. Set in the year 2112, 63 years after the “Post-Post-Post Movement,” a global government is executing its Universal Relocation Project (URP), and leaving Earth in a large machine fast enough to orbit a black hole. Three leading Black physicists work undercover with the Futurist Freedom Party (FFP) to help those left behind by securing technology for life to survive in Earth's deep oceans.

Lola Ayisha Ogbara’s series The Perfect Servant continues the artist’s exploration of destruction as renewal in response to drudgery. Commemorating Black laborers of the Industrial Era who’ve made the great city of Chicago what it is, Ogbara uses Chicago’s labor intensive history to envision a radical future for Black lives. Immortalizing maids and domestic workers who are often forgotten in narratives surrounding Chicago’s history, Ogbara revisits the far Southside as “The Ghost of Pullman’s Past”. Ogbara finds an additional dialogue between sculpture and experimental photography that challenges our relationship to viewership. Ogbara questions, “What lengths are we willing to go to in order to protect what is rightfully ours?” as she begins to imagine a collective disruption in the way we use our bodies to perform artistic labor.

COVID safety event info: This convening is open to all who make a reservation regardless of vaccination status and, because of ongoing health risks to the unvaccinated, all who attend are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures advised by public health officials (masking and social distancing, etc.). Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures. Participants may contact event organizers to request accommodation of risk mitigation measures.

Everyone who makes a reservation must agree to follow public health practices when visiting, and all visitors and staff are required to wear a face covering that fully covers their nose and mouth at all times while they are inside the building.

Detailed information on the University of Chicago health and safety guidelines are outlined at