Allen Stringfellow, Street Smarts II, ca. 1990s. Collage and watercolor on paper. Gift of John and Dorothy Gardner. 2014-8-1
May 16, 2022 to Aug 5, 2022
This collection installation highlights the work of Allen Stringfellow (1923–2004), an artist whose vivid works focus on the lives of African Americans, particularly those in the many communities in which he was raised.
Raised in Champaign and brought up by his religious great-grandmother, Stringfellow would often travel north to Chicago where his parents lived. His father managed the Club De Lisa, a jazz nightclub on the South Side that was inclusive of non-binary and queer performers and patrons and was one of the only clubs in the city where Blacks were allowed to sit.
Stringfellow reflected on and infused his own experiences into his watercolors, collages, and sculptures, whether the works expressed the pride of vibrant communities in the South Side of Chicago, the radiant energy of jazz clubs, or the joyful exuberance of open-air baptisms at Urbana’s Crystal Lake.
Inspired to portray delight, Stringfellow once said, “I wanted to be an artist without a clenched fist in the air. I thought being a Black artist would be labeling myself, and besides, I was never mad.”
Curated by Katie Koca Polite
This gallery feature connects to a companion show at the University YMCA titled, "Uncle Allen: Works by Allen Stringfellow from the Family Collection". It is on view May 19 through August 1, 2022.