And thus we shall survive : the perseverance of the South Side Community Art Center

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Hardy, Debra Anne

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This study investigates The South Side Community Art Center in Chicago, Illinois, an art center founded at the end of the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project. The Art Center was only one of a handful of African-American art centers in the nation, and was one of the only locations that black artists could showcase their work proudly on the South Side. An examination is made into the period of time after federal funds were pulled, focusing on 1942-1959, to examine how exactly the Art Center kept its doors open. An overview of the founding of the SSCAC is presented, alongside theoretical lenses used in the crafting of a specific theoretical framework to analyze the Art Center. This study uses historical interpretation of archive data from the SSCAC from 1942-1959. An investigation of archived information found a noticeable gap in data between 1950-1953, leading to the use of historic imagination surrounding the missing material. Using historical imagination, two hypotheses were put forth to explain the lack of information found in the archive. First, the historic significance of McCarthyism on black individuals is highlighted. Second, the elusive histories of black women which are often missing from traditional archives is brought forth as a possible explanation for why the data does not seem to exist. The research concludes with a reflection on the difficulty of studying small institutions and specifically the histories of oppressed groups.




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