Highlighting Chicago’s unique artistic heritage and creative communities, Art Design Chicago, includes over 35 exhibitions and hundreds of events now through 2025. An initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art, Art Design Chicago seeks to uplift and partner with local artists and organizations throughout the city, while telling their stories and expanding narratives of American art.   

In celebration of one of the South Side’s most prominent artists, Art Design Chicago presents The United Colors of Earl Paige, now on display at the Hyde Park Art Center through October 27. Robert Earl Paige is a legendary interdisciplinary artist, educator and designer who has mastered the use of fabrics, collages and rather peculiar objects. He has an appreciation for African patterns and aesthetics, with an eye keen for detail, which is evident in his work. 

His largest exhibition to date, The United Colors of Earl Paige, is the debut of the work Paige has completed during his 2022-2023 residency at the Hyde Park Art Center, located on 5020 S Cornell Ave. The exhibit and the Hyde Park Arts Center is free and open to the public.

Paige has lived through the civil rights era, a lot of his work representing Black pride and inequity, while emphasizing beauty in Black culture. Those looking to visit the exhibit can expect to see an array of abstract paintings and designs, rooted in African aesthetics, as well as messages mimicking principles from the civil rights era, some that are still relevant today. 

The name of the exhibit comes from a drawing his daughter made for him in 1986 of a flag-like shape with many colors which she titled The United Colors of Earl Paige. The original drawing by his daughter is on display at the exhibit.  

A common trait of Paige’s work is his resourcefulness, often using everyday objects for his art. “Anybody can design with a million dollar budget,” he told members of the press on April 5, at a press preview for the exhibit. Thus, you can be sure to see items like pop cans in his pieces, or even a cool collection of rocks he’s collected. Even the rectangular cuts of cardboard, which he used to frame the descriptions of each piece of work, are indications of his never ending pursuit of beauty and his resourcefulness.

“There’s so much ugliness going on in the world. There are phrases like, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you’re not trained to see it, then you don’t see it. It’s available to everyone,” he told The TRiiBE in an interview on April 5.

Robert Earl Paige standing in front of art
Robert Earl Paige's work as a textile painter is experimental with bright color schemes and abstract geometric concepts. Photo by Tyger Ligon for The TRiiBE®
Robert Earl Paige
Photo by Tyger Ligon for The TRiiBE®

Paige, now 87, continues to be a staple of Chicago’s art community. Still enthusiastic about his work, he stated, “I don’t consider myself a senior citizen, I’m a person of longstanding.”

“Curiosity is the key,” Paige told The TRiiBE. “What I found out is that in our community, we’re kind of jaded in terms of going and looking at things, and I would suggest that for them to be enlightened and entertained, come to the Hyde Park Arts Center and see this show.”

Another installment of the Art Design Chicago series is Norman Teague’s, A Love Supreme, on display at the Elmhurst Art Museum, located at 150 Cottage Hill Ave, through April 28. A South Side native, Teague is a world renowned designer, artist, furniture maker and educator. His self constructed furniture has been used at prominent clubs in Chicago like the Bronzeville Winery, The Silver Room, and LDRS  [known as, “Leaders”].

This exhibit is named after, and inspired by John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme,’ a jazz album that was released in January of 1965. In this exhibit, Teague uses the inspiration of the legendary album to combine the elements of improvisational Jazz and the bold aesthetics of Black culture.

When talking about his love and appreciation for Jazz, Teague credits his Chicago upbringing. “This has been sort of a backdrop of my life growing up in Chicago, being witness to amazing jazz clubs in Chicago, but also watching them disappear,” he told The TRiiBE.

His exhibit features 20 brand new pieces, ranging from large scale sculptures, to porcelain pieces made out of old instruments.

Art and music enthusiasts can also enjoy an adjoining exhibit at the Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House consisting of the work of 35 artists, showcasing works inspired by their musical influences. ‘A Love Supreme: McCormick House Reimagined’ is curated by Teague and visual artist Rose Camara.

“I didn’t want to sway the artists that are in the house to have to compile work around John Coltrane, but like, what was the true story of each of you all’s motivation and inspiration? ” he asked.

Not only are these exhibits a chance to experience art design at a high level, but it’s also a chance to support local artists. “Everything from paintings to furniture that are inside of the house has an artist behind it. And these artists make a living off of these pieces of work. So yes, people should know that the work is for sale.”

The exhibits at the Elmhurst Art Museum are on display until April 28, and there’s many art events and exhibitions, provided by Art Design Chicago coming soon, including:

August 19, 2023 – May 5, 2024 

entre horizontes: Art and Activism Between Chicago and Puerto Rico 
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 

September 16, 2023 – May 17, 2024 

Native Futures
Center for Native Futures 

March 23, 2024 – June 16, 2024 

Alice Shaddle: Fuller Circles
Hyde Park Art Center 

April 5, 2024 – May 11, 2024 

Lawrence Agyei: DRILL
Blanc Gallery 

April 6, 2024 – July 28, 2024 

Victoria Martinez: Braiding Histories
Chicago Cultural Center

Learn more about  events related to the Art Design Chicago initiative by visiting their website. 

is a culture correspondent with The TRiiBE.