Rick Lowe: Black Wall Street Journey

Thursday, July 15Friday, October 01

SAIC Sharp Building, 37 S. Wabash


SAIC’s Sharp Building (37 S. Wabash Avenue) served as a display location for Rick Lowe’s Black Wall Street Journey July 15—October 1, 2021. This project, Lowe’s first social sculpture in Chicago, fosters awareness of the barriers to building wealth in Black communities and offers a platform that demonstrates the resilient, entrepreneurial, creative, and inventive spirit historically and currently present within African American communities. Launching soon after the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, Black Wall Street Journey brings together a group of local artists, civic leaders, and entrepreneurs to honor this history and lay a new foundation for Black prosperity in Chicago. Black Wall Street Journey headquarters is located at 314 E. 51st Street in Bronzeville where it is being incubated by Urban Juncture.

Broadcasting from SAIC’s Sharp Building is the Black Wall Street Journal, a component of Lowe’s broader project. Through a series of informative vignettes and a marquee scroll of data, texts and quotes, this video stream illustrates the journey of Black wealth, entrepreneurship, and business ownership in Chicago and beyond. It builds on the connection between Chicago and Tulsa, home to the prosperous neighborhood known as Black Wall Street and target of the 1921 race massacre which resulted in the killing of over 300 Black Tulsans and sending over 10,000 looking for refuge. Black Wall Street Journal’s goal is to highlight the innovative minds and entities that have made Chicago a hub of Black prosperity using public art to share information about Black wealth with the general public.

The Black Wall Street Journal is presented alongside the Black Wall Street Journey poster series produced by Natalie Moore in collaboration with Amanda Williams.

This work by Rick Lowe is presented by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It is an initiative of Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40, which is organized by the Smart Museum of Art in collaboration with exhibition, programmatic, and research partners across Chicago. Toward Common Cause is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and curated by Abigail Winograd, MacArthur Fellows Program Fortieth Anniversary Exhibition Curator, Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Lead support for Rick Lowe: Black Wall Street Journey is provided by the Allstate Foundation. Additional support is provided through the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Visiting Fellows Program at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, and the National Academy of Design/Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Trust Fund for Mural Painting. In-kind support is provided by JCDecaux.

Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40 explores the extent to which certain resources—air, land, water, and even culture—can be held in common. Raising questions about inclusion, exclusion, ownership, and rights of access, the exhibition considers art’s vital role in society as a call to vigilance, a way to bear witness, and a potential act of resistance. Presented on the 40th anniversary of the MacArthur Fellows Program, Toward Common Cause deploys the Fellows Program as “intellectual commons” and features new and recontextualized work by 29 visual artists who have been named Fellows since the award program’s founding in 1981.


[Rick Lowe, Black Wall Street Journey, 2020, Photo illustration. Courtesy of the artist.]