Feb 22nd 2021

Cuts and Beats: Cecil McDonald, Jr.
Kanter McCormick Gallery
Curated by Allison Peters Quinn

The exhibition of photography and installation work presents a collection of Cecil McDonald, Jr.’s most recent body of work birthed from his 2018 residency at the Art Center, which embodies photomontages to subvert the racist representation of Black artists from history. Through his art practice, McDonald explores the intersections of masculinity, kinship, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of Black Americans, using photography, video, and text. Cuts and Beats, particularly, draws attention to the controlled conditions under which Black artists performed and built careers during the Vaudeville and Minstrel era. Using photomontage technique, McDonald combined manipulated historical images of Black artists publicized by the entertainment industry—vintage sheet music covers, theater advertisements, and artist publicity photographs—with contemporary photographs taken by the artist himself in dance clubs around Chicago. By blending generations, locations, and authorship, the artist wishes to subvert, not erase, the racist representations of Black musicians popularized in the late 1800s.

Cecil McDonald, Jr. (b. Chicago, 1965) studied fashion, house music, and dance club culture before receiving an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago, where he currently works as an adjunct professor. Most recently he was a teaching artist at Nicholas Senn High School through the School Partnership for Art and Civic Engagement (SPACE) program at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. McDonald’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Harris Bank Collection. McDonald was awarded the Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society Residency, and a 3Arts Teaching Artist Award. In 2016, the first edition of his monograph In The Company of Black was published and shortlisted by the Aperture Foundation for the 2017 First Photo Book Award. McDonald’s work was the subject of a major solo exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2019.

A virtual public program “Cuts and Beats From The Archive” will take place on Thursday, February 25, 5-6 p.m., featuring McDonald in dialogue with archivist Robert Hanserd about the use of the archive from the Center for Black Music Research in this exhibition. For more information, visit www.hydeparkart.org.

COVID-19-related safety protocols
Hyde Park Art Center views its community’s safety as the number one priority and is utilizing the guidance from the City and State to inform its reopening procedures including the requiring of masks to be worn in the building at all times; instituting extra cleaning and disinfecting procedures; wide availability of hand sanitizer throughout the building; and the careful configuring of exhibition hours so as to help regulate the number of people and maintain proper social distance in the Art Center at one time.

Admission and hours
Exhibition admission is free, and advance registration is required. For latest exhibition hours and advance registration, visit www.hydeparkart.org.

About the Hyde Park Art Center
Hyde Park Art Center, at 5020 South Cornell Avenue on Chicago’s vibrant South Side, is a hub for contemporary arts in Chicago, serving as a gathering and production space for artists and the broader community to cultivate ideas, impact social change, and connect with new networks. Since its inception in 1939, Hyde Park Art Center has grown from a small collective of quirky artists to establishing a strong legacy of innovative development and emerging as a unique Chicago arts institution with social impact. The Art Center functions as an amplifier for today and tomorrow’s creative voices, providing the space to cultivate and create new work and connections.

For more information, please visit www.hydeparkart.org

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