Sapphire & Crystals, a collective of African American women artists in Chicago, was initially conceived by Marva Pitchford Jolly and Felicia Grant Preston. Their idea that women artists of African descent produce their own exhibitions resulted in the collective’s first show at the historic South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) in 1987. In its thirty-five-year history, more than 40 of the most dynamic African American female artists in the United States have participated in exhibits at many galleries, museums, and art centers within Chicago and beyond. The works by each artist addressing various themes including race and gender, limited palettes, and honoring their pasts, exemplify the diversity within the group. The theme for the current show, FORWARD, signals the renewed enthusiasm that members are embracing in the movement toward new artistic opportunities in a changing cultural landscape.
Patricia A. Stewart