Back to list Added Dec 26, 2012
865 N. Milwaukee Avenue
The 25th anniversary of Sapphire and Crystals at Woman Made gallery was bittersweet. Marva Jolly, one of the co-founders with Felicia Grant Preston died suddenly right before we opened. Sixteen artists participated, curator, Joyce Owens with the support of Beate Minkovski, Ruby Thorkelson and staff to make the exhibition a success. We added a Fine Art Holiday market that also had good results, with a screening of a documentary on the deceased member by Shuli Eshel.
Sapphire and Crystals:
Sapphire and Crystals is a collective of professional African American women artists. The artists decided to self-determine when, where and with whom they exhibited. Focusing on the aspect of collaboration, the women artists are committed to showcasing exciting new work for each exhibition. They often perform all tasks leading up to an exhibition, including curating, designing postcards and catalogs, prepping and installing the art and publicity and promotion. The group’s signature self-portrait silent auction during the opening reception presents affordable collecting opportunities for visitors on the first night only. The individual personal work by each member addressing various themes such as race and gender, limited palettes, and honoring our pasts, exemplifies the diversity within our ethnic group, one of the missions of the group. The collaborative site-specific installation is an exhibit feature distinct to this collective.
The collective's first exhibition was held at the historic South Side Community Art Century (SSCAC) in 1987; the group revisited the center’s Margaret Burroughs Gallery in the fall of 2010. The second exhibition in 1988 was held at Nicole Gallery in Chicago’s River North. The African American women artists returned to Nicole Gallery 21 years later in 2009. The group has exhibited at Elmhurst College's Frick Center, The Noyes Cultural Center in Evanston, IL, ARC, Woman Made, and Artemisia and many other galleries and art centers within the city and beyond.
Membership in Sapphire and Crystals is decided by existing members. We require that artists have begun seriously pursuing art on their own. Marva Pitchford Jolly and Felicia Grant Preston conceived of the idea of the organization that has included Annie Lee, Margaret Burroughs, Geraldine McCullough, Renee Townsend, Anna M. Tyler, Shirley J. Sullivan, Dorian Sylvain, Candace Hunter, Rhonda Wheatley, Shahar Caren Weaver, Shyvette Williams, Renee Williams Jefferson, Pearlie Taylor, Dorothy Carter, Joanne Scott, Makeba Kedem DuBose, Patricia Stewart, Venus Blue, Lillian Morgan-Lewis, Dorothy Carter and others. We bring in a few new artists on a regular basis who may show their works once or twice, and some artists have participated in multiple exhibitions over the past 25 years. We recently were honored by two public art works: at the National Museum of Mexican Art in 2010 six of us constructed an ofrenda to Dr. Margaret Taylor Burroughs, and currently the Chicago Public Art Group and the Hyde Park Art Center honoring the group with a mural showcasing selected artists in Hyde Park under the 51st Street viaduct. –Joyce Owens
Curator: Joyce Owens
Owens earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. A professor of painting and drawing at Chicago State University, she also curates for the two on-campus galleries. Owens has been sought out to jury fine art exhibitions and art fairs at the Museum of Science and Industry, The DuSable Museum, Woman Made Gallery, the Women's Caucus for Art and The New East Side Art Fair to name a few. She has been a curator for many successful shows and an arts facilitator/consultant putting together artists with events. Owens is a knowledgeable arts panelist who has also developed discussion topics for galleries at Columbia College in Chicago, The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, The School of the Art Institute, The Carver Museum in Austin, Texas and more. Owens serves on the Advisory Committee for the Department of Cultural Affair’s Chicago Artists Month since 2002. She consults with the Chicago Artists Coalition, and is on the Advisory Board of Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. Owens is an associate editor for "The Journal of African American History."