FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Three Featured Artists Provide Insight into Pressing
Issues through the Lens of their Personal Experiences
CHICAGO, January 31, 2018 –This spring, Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) will feature the work of three artists who explore pressing contemporary social and political issues through photography and collage. Gregory Beals: They Arrived Last Night documents the global refugee crisis through compelling photographic portraits of refugees. Her Story, My Dreams: The Images of Della Wells combines personal narratives, political struggles, and imaginary tales into a collection of colorful collages. Tonika Lewis Johnson: Everyday Englewood celebrates daily life in the South Side neighborhood where she was raised.
On view from February 6 through June 2, all three exhibitions address the perseverance of the human spirit in spite of adversity. Challenging sensationalized and superficial media portrayals of marginalized communities, these three artists provide insight into pressing social issues through personal experience.
Ranging from local to global, these artists present familiar topics in a new light. Despite Englewood’s notoriety as a Chicago crime hub, photographer Tonika Johnson portrays her South Side neighborhood as a place of normalcy, joy, and beauty. After spending the past eight years travelling to refugee camps across the globe, Gregory Beals’ collection of photographs depicts the unimaginable hardships faced by displaced people—but also reveals how families are able to endure, creating a sense of home without any assurance of permanency. Della Wells’ playful collages gives voice to the lives of socially marginalized people and responds to contemporary issues of race and gender.
Gregory Beals: They Arrived Last Night
They Arrived Last Night is a collection of photographs that sheds light on the refugee experience, capturing both the relief of escaping an untenable situation and the fear of an uncertain future. Beals’ images poignantly convey the multitude of experiences and emotions that come from living in a liminal state. Some portraits capture mourning and fear, while others illustrate unexpected stories of hope, resilience, and joy. Beals has worked with the United Nations Refugee Agency as well as the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and was a correspondent for Newsweek.
Her Story, My Dreams: The Images of Della Wells
Self-taught Milwaukee artist Della Wells is a visual storyteller. Fascinated by myths and fairytales with hidden meanings, Wells creates layered images from found objects. Her Stories, My Dreams showcases a selection of Wells’ colorful assemblages, drawings, and handmade dolls inspired by personal narratives, political struggles, and imaginary tales. Combining her interest in African American history, gender studies, and theology, Wells employs potent symbolism to give voice to contemporary issues of race and gender.
Tonika Lewis Johnson: Everyday Englewood
Activist-artist Tonika Lewis Johnson’s visually stunning photographs document daily life in Englewood. Johnson tenderly challenges the sensationalized, damage-centered narrative of the Chicago South Side neighborhood in which she was raised. Her images celebrate the resilience of urban black culture in Englewood by portraying levity, triumph, joy, and normalcy. In December, Johnson was named one of Chicago magazine’s 2017 Chicagoans of the Year.
The following events take place at LUMA, 820 N. Michigan Avenue. Visit LUC.edu/luma for the full schedule.
Spring Exhibitions Opening Reception
Friday, February 9, 5:30–7:30 p.m., Free to the public
Join LUMA members and staff to celebrate the opening of the spring exhibitions. All three featured artists will be in attendance.
Gallery Talk: Gregory Beals
Saturday, February 10, 1-3 p.m., Free to the public
Join photographer Gregory Beals as he leads a tour of his exhibition, They Arrived Last Night. Beals will discuss his photographs documenting the global refugee crisis and his work with the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Gallery Talk: Della Wells
Saturday, March 3, 3-4 p.m., Free to the public
Join artist Della Wells for a tour of her exhibition. During this talk, the artist will share stories that inspired her collages, drawings, and handmade dolls on view in Her Story, My Dreams: The Images of Della Wells.
Artist in Conversation: Tonika Lewis Johnson and Amanda Williams
Tuesday, March 20, 6-7 p.m., Free to the Public
In a conversation hosted by Chicago artist Amanda Williams, Tonika Lewis Johnson will discuss her exhibition, Everyday Englewood. Johnson and Williams both address black communities and changing Chicago neighborhoods in their work.
Artist in Conversation: Della Wells and Debra Brehmer
Tuesday, April 10, 6-7 p.m., Free to the Public
Join featured artist Della Wells and Milwaukee gallery owner Debra Brehmer for a conversation about Della Wells’ work on view in Her Story, My Dreams: The Images of Della Wells. Brehmer owns and operates Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee.
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.
Art illuminating the spirit!