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MCA x Black x Art

February 05, 202312:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Black x Art. Photo: @fashphotos.

About the Event

The MCA is proud to collaborate with Mike “Orie” Mosley, founder and creative director of Afrotrak, to present Black x Art, an immersive art experience featuring discussions and screenings at the intersection of Black art, film, photography, and visual arts. This event coincides with several MCA exhibitions that include contemporary Black and brown artists, including Martine Syms: She Mad Season One and Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today. Looking towards the future in bridge building between institutions, artists, and community, Black x Art highlights Black artists in Chicago from various practices who are blazing the trail and pushing the boundaries on what contemporary art looks like today.

As part of Black x Art’s partnership with the MCA, this daylong event also features a live DJ set from Mike Orie, digital art exhibits, and an artist-led session by Tonika Johnson, creator of the Folded Map project, further highlighting the works of Black artists, creatives, DJs, visual artists, curators, and more.

This program is organized in collaboration with Mike Orie, Founder and Creative Director of Afrotrak/ Black x Art, and Otez Gary, Community Engagement Manager at the MCA.

About the Work

Black x Art serves as a community where Black people are encouraged and empowered to elevate one another through (Black) art. Known event curator, Mike “Orie” Mosley, created Black x Art in 2022 after witnessing the challenges Black artists face in accessing well-needed and well-deserved resources and opportunities. Mosley was driven to make way for Black artists to focus on creating rather than worrying about the unfair struggle to advance in the art industry.

Black x Art will continue to amplify Black art, in its various mediums, to the world.

Afrotrak logoBlack x Art logo


Soundtrack x Afrotrak | Mike Orie

noon–1 pm
3rd-floor balcony, various spaces

Enjoy art projections in the Commons and theater during a DJ set by Mike Orie.

Talk | Looking Towards the Future: A Chicago Black Art Renaissance

1:30–2:30 pm
Edlis Neeson Theater

This panel discussion features artists Adonte Clark, Bianca Pastel, Dwight White, and Ayana Contreras, moderated by Mike Orie. It will also be streamed in the Commons.

Screening and Talk | The Folded Map Project by Tonika Johnson

3–4 pm
Edlis Neeson Theater

The discussion and film screening will also be streamed in the Commons.

About the Artists

Adonte Clark. Image courtesy of the artist.

Adonte Clark, a native of Ohio, used art in his early years as a simple creative outlet. He often sketched in his spare time, and only recently picked up a paintbrush to explore the creative depths of his craft. Clark relocated to Chicago, Illinois, in 2013. Inspired by the rich art culture of Chicago, he decided to tell stories through mixed media. His abstract, expressionist work often originates from one-line ideas; he transforms day-to-day interactions that into visual art, frequently narrating the human relationship to nature and the journey of life. Clark uses hidden elements to represent those relationships, while allowing the viewer space for their own unique interpretation. In all he is hopeful that those thoughts, feelings, and perspective can inspire someone and be enjoyable to many.

Ayana Contreras. Image courtesy of the artist.

Ayana Contreras is a cultural historian, memory worker, radio DJ, and archivist. An avid collector, with more than 8,000 vintage vinyl records, she hosts the Reclaimed Soul program on WBEZ and Vocalo Radio in Chicago. She is also a columnist for DownBeat magazine, and her writings have been published in Chicago Review, Oxford American, and Bandcamp Daily, among other publications. Her book on post-Civil Rights era cultural history, titled Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago, was published in December 2021 through University of Illinois Press.

Tonika Johnson. Photo: Philip Dembinski.

Tonika Johnson is a visual artist/photographer from the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. She was featured in Chicago Magazine as a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year for her photography of Englewood’s everyday beauty, countering its pervasive media coverage of poverty and crime. Her Everyday Englewood photography was exhibited at Loyola University’s Museum of Art (LUMA) in early 2018. Her ongoing project, Folded Map, which visually investigates disparities among Chicago residents while bringing them together to have a conversation, was also exhibited at LUMA from July through October 2018. Most recently, she was named one of Landmark Illinois’s 2022 Influencers for her Inequity For Sale project, which highlights the living history of Greater Englewood homes sold on discriminatory Land Sale Contracts in the 1950s and 1960s. Visit her website to see more.

Bianca Pastel. Image courtesy of the artist.

Bianca Pastel is a Chicago-based artist whose playful and nostalgic art centers around the black female experience. Finding influence in nineties movies and cartoons, Pastel creates art to remind people of the joy and complexity of childhood memories. She studied art and design at Columbia College before working alongside her then-boss and current mentor, Hebru Brantley, concentrating on digital art mediums.

Her portfolio ranges from fine art and screen prints, album art and children’s literature illustration, to animation and merchandise with clients such as Nike, Adidas, Disney Pixar, and the NFL. Pastel’s current focus is creating an imaginative cartoon empowering the experience of being a black child and dealing with mental health issues. Follow the journey on Instagram @yobinky.

Dwight White. Image courtesy of the artist.

Dwight White is a multi-disciplinary creative with ideas and strategy that originate by thoroughly understanding how consumers think and make decisions in regards to brands, products, and the arts. He utilizes insights to inspire, innovate, and maintain relevancy with culture through creativity. He has worked to build strategies for growth with organizations across industries by understanding complex societal structures and current behaviors of consumers.

With a background in marketing and consumer insights, White has been inspired by the ways in which one can capture truth visually to engage and connect with the people. He loves the challenge of taking the consumer beyond just seeing the art—he believes they should feel it. His confidence and commitment to his craft is inspiring as he embraces his function in society to document the history of connected cultural experiences through art.

His calling is to create and inspire as he continues on his journey as an artist. His love for people and insights comes to life through paintings on canvas, large-scale walls (murals), and public communications after respectfully studying his subjects to share authentic stories and truths. Every day, he lives the life of a business and artist professional—truly defining what it means to be an “Artrepreunuer.”

“In my role as an Artist & Creative Consultant, I consistently achieve results and open doors for new opportunities by remaining Humble, Hungry and Hard-Working—The “3 H’s” I live by. I aim to become a part of the consumers journey as I encourage people of the community to be a part of mine.”