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Sapphire & Crystals: Freedom’s Muse
Logan Center Exhibitions is pleased to present Freedom’s Muse featuring members from Sapphire & Crystals, a collective of African American women artists in Chicago initially conceived by Marva Pitchford Jolly and Felicia Grant Preston in 1987. This exhibition explores the intersection of art and freedom of expression in celebration of the 36th Anniversary of the collective and the launch of the university’s new Chicago Forum for Free Inquiry and Expression.
“America is composed of all kinds of people, and part of the difficulty in our nation today is that we are not utilizing the abilities and the talents of other brown and black peoples and females that have something to bring to the creativity, the rejuvenation and the revitalization of this country.” – Shirley Chisholm
This year marks Sapphire & Crystals’ 36th anniversary as an active art collective. Our mission is to give voice and opportunity to African American women artists by participating and increasing our visibility in arts institutions, and to honor our history and culture. When our collective was formed in 1987, we declared our freedom from the status quo and demanded a place at the table.
For this exhibition at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts, we chose the theme Freedom’s Muse to explore the ideas of freedom, creativity and self-determination. In mythology, the Muses were nine goddesses who symbolized the arts and sciences. Today, a muse serves as inspiration. We find our Muses in activists, ancestors and art forms. We find Muses in sacred spaces and special places, and they always encourage freedom of expression and creativity. Shirley Chisholm is certainly one of our Muses. She advocated for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion when she became the first Black woman to be elected to Congress in 1968, and throughout her presidential campaign in 1972. Over 50 years later, our nation continues to aspire to her ideas. These values are also our hope for humanity, and thus we celebrate our Muses.
In this exhibition, Sapphire & Crystals artists address Freedom’s Muse in painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, quilting, drawing, and mixed media. We hope our individual and collective creative expressions inspire our viewers to muse more deeply about freedom, inclusion, diversity and respect for all cultures and contributions; to Be and Do as a philosophy of life; Be the change we want to see in the world, and Do what is necessary to achieve it.
Many thanks to the artists of Sapphire & Crystals, and to the Logan Center Staff for their invaluable support. This exhibition makes us proud of our perseverance to live, grow and create.