Gerald Griffin stands in a welcoming position with his arms open in the foreground of his gallery space which contains multiple paintings on the walls and sculptures on glass tables in the center.

WGN Profiles Gerald Griffin’s Illustrious Career in Chicago’s Art Scene

In a recent WGN profile, Gerald Griffin (BFA 1986) shares his journey in the art world from his first art class at Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen to the opening of his own merchandise mart, Bourdeau Griffin Fine Art and Design Center, in Chatham. After discovering his talent for painting in high school, Griffin received a scholarship to attend the School of the Art Institute Chicago and travel overseas to experience world-renowned art institutions like the Louvre. This trip inspired his commitment to sharing often untold stories of Africans and African Americans through his work.

In 2003, Griffin and other SAIC students established Gerald Griffin Gallery to highlight Black artists. Years later Griffin and his wife Frantzie Bourdeau-Griffin relocated the gallery to a warehouse on the South Side of Chicago in the Chatham neighborhood to better serve this community. They also started the nonprofit Artist Life to provide free art education to young artists and give them an opportunity to sell their work at their annual black tie gala. Griffin’s current project consists of a series of monuments of important Black historical figures such as Barack Obama, Frederick Douglas, and Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable as a response to the removed confederate monuments in Chicago. He finds that art is the best medium through which people can have important dialogues about difficult topics.