Photo, sculpture, and performance project invites creative collaboration between neighbors worlds apart

A collaboration with artist Cecil McDonald Jr



About The Artist – Cecil McDonald Jr

I am most interested in the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of black culture, particular as this culture intersects with and informs the larger culture. Through photography, video, and dance/performance, I seek to investigate and question the norms and customs that govern our understanding of each other, our families, and the myriad of societal struggles and triumphs. I studied fashion, house music and dance club culture before receiving a MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago where I currently serve as an adjunct professor and a teaching artist at the Center for Community Arts Partnership at Columbia College Chicago.

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My work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and Museum of Contemporary Photography. I was awarded the: Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society, Lucerne, Switzerland Residency and the 3Arts Teaching Artist Award. I participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in July 2013. In 2016 the first edition of my monograph In The Company of Black was published and was shortlisted by the Aperture Foundation for the 2017 First PhotoBook Award.



Artist Statement

Cecil McDonald Jr.

Two years ago I had a vision that involved a colorfield of green where groups of children would gather to fly kites. I would position myself above the field and make a photograph from this vantage point. On these kites would be the likeness and thoughts of the children and adults flying the kites.

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This vision, simple in its presentation, would prove to be a Herculean feat to realize. This photograph involved complex planning and vast resources, three schools and over eighty children and adults. But with the hard work of Art on Sedgwick and friends, we made it happen. Grouped as strangers in pairs, the participants agreed to ask and answer complex and personal questions of each other. here are but a few of those questions:

  • What is your favorite memory?
  • How would your classmates remember you?
  • Do you think about dying? Are you afraid?
  • What are the most important lessons you have learned in life?
  • What does your future hold?
  • What do you dream about?

After the questions and answers were compiled, I asked the pairs to consider one another and create portraits in response to what they saw in each other. As an artist I compiled all the text and images, assembled, with the help of my friend and fellow artist John Bakker, all the raw materials to create the kites, lasty the pairs were invited back to create then perform the flying of the kites. This photograph represents a social engagement and activates the social contract we enter into as citizens when we take the full measure of our sisters and brothers and celebrate our differences and similarities.



kite project exhibitions

2020 – Drawn Together Exhibition – Madron Gallery of Fine Art

2017 – My Street, My Voice, My Story – Art on Sedgwick Studio

Currently On display

“Flyin’ High in the Friendly Skies” (Inkjet print 6’x4′) – Willis Tower, Chicago

“Flyin’ High in the Friendly Skies” (Inkjet print 6’x4′) – Art on Sedgwick Studio

Flyin’ High Kites (Tyvek, rods, and adhesive materials) – Not currently on display

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