American artist Margaret Burroughs found her voice as an educator, poet, community organizer, and visual artist. She was an advocate for African American representation in public history, literature and art when its presence was limited or non-existent. Her poetry speaks of beauty in being black and seeks to instill pride and value in a rich, ancestral African heritage and African American history.
She made an indelible mark through her community work to nurture black culture and preserve black history in Chicago. She co-founded the South Side Community Art Center (funded by the Works Progress Administration), which continues to provide an array of exhibitions and art classes to the south side Bronzeville neighborhood. Dedicated in 1941 by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, it is the oldest African American art center in the country. Burroughs co-founded the DuSable Museum of African American History in 1961, which became the first independently-owned museum celebrating black history, art, and culture. She was also an honorary advisor to Fort Wayne’s own African/African American Historical Museum.
Burroughs’ work in the visual arts took the form of painting, some sculpture, and a large body of relief prints. With this exhibition, we will celebrate this unsung hero’s many contributions to Chicago’s cultural life, share her legacy with the Fort Wayne community, and explore her work from a creative perspective.
February 5: Dr. Mary Ann Cain Talk and Tour, 6:30pm
Dr. Mary Ann Cain, Professor of English and Linguistics at Purdue Fort Wayne, will discuss the life and work of Renaissance woman, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, as chronicled in her recently released biography, South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs. She will illustrate how the interconnections between Burroughs’ work as a writer/poet, educator, community activist, and institution builder informed her work as an internationally known artist. To understand her art accurately, it is important to understand the context of her very productive and socially oriented life.