Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar

November 1, 2023—March 10, 2024

Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

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Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar (photo credit: Scheherazade Tillet, The Offerings to Yemaya, Rainbow Beach Chicago, 2021)

(click on image to enlarge, photo credit: Scheherazade Tillet, The Offerings to Yemaya, Rainbow Beach Chicago, 2021)

 

A Long Walk Home is a national art organization that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women. Since its inception in 2003, A Long Walk Home has built a powerful collective of artists, activists, healers, survivors, scholars, and women and girls of color leaders. We are committed to increasing resources and opportunities for society’s most vulnerable girls and women in the Chicago area -- low-income girls and women of color, those with disabilities, and LGBTQ-identified -- and those most impacted by violence.

During the uprising and global pandemic in 2021, A Long Walk Home's Chicago-based artists Scheherazade Tillet and Robert Narciso created The Black Girlhood Altar. The Black Girlhood Altar is a multimedia, artifact-based, video, and object-based artwork to create sacred spaces and honor the lives of Black girls and young Black women who have gone missing or been murdered. As a mode of urgent healing – weaving together commemoration and advocacy – the Black Girlhood Altar is built on years of engaged work in Chicago and taking on national prominence. This temporary monument traveled through various neighborhoods in Chicago before being exhibited at Chicago Cultural Center. Other installations were at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Project Row Houses in Houston, Project for Empty Space in Newark, and the Minnesota State Capitol in St Paul. As a vital cultural institution in the heart of Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center represents the democratization of arts for public life.

This iteration Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar is intended as a sacred site for missing and murdered Black girls and women. Assembled by A Long Walk Home’s artists Scheherazade Tillet and Robert Narcisco and Black girls in Chicago, the altar is a mixed-media, object-based installation initially created during the pandemic to transform public spaces from trauma sites to collective remembering and power.

The Black Girlhood Altar honors eight Black women and girls: Rekia Boyd, Latasha Harlins, Ma’Khia Bryant, “Hope”, “Harmony”, Marcie Gerald, Lyniah Bell, and Breonna Taylor, whose deaths or disappearances have galvanized A Long Walk Home’s Black girl leaders to be activists and artists. In many cases, injustice defines their afterlives while their stories remain untold, their legacies honored by only a few.

The exhibit is presented in three distinct gallery spaces - Ritual and Prayer; Rest and Recess: The Courtyard; and Call and Response – each introduced by a distinctly colored lightbox.

Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar aims to bring awareness to the issue of missing and murdered women of color, promote community accountability, end gender-based violence, and increase visibility. The exhibition creates a space for artists, families, and community activists to engage in public conversation.

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Chicago Cultural Center

Admission is FREE
Open Daily, 10am–5pm
Exhibitions close 15 minutes before the building closes
(Closed Holidays)

Plan Your Visit


Find us:

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

Take CTA to Chicago Cultural Center

  • From the elevated lines: exit at Washington/Wabash and walk east.
  • From the subway: exit at Lake (Red Line) or Washington (Blue Line) and walk east.
  • Served by Michigan Avenue buses 3, 4, 19, 20, 26, 60, 66, 124, 143, 147, 151, 157 and Washington St. buses 4, J14, 20, 56, 66, 147

Programming Schedule

Sunday, November 5

2-4pm
Reimagining and Remembering Series: The Rekia Boyd Monument on Rekia's 34th Birthday
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Saturday, November 18

12-2pm
Reimagining and Remembering Series: Superheroes and healing powers lead by Elizabeth Gerald, Wisdom Baty, and Scheherazade Tillet
Learning Lab, 1st Floor South

Monday, November 27

12-1pm
Artist Gallery Talk: Scheherazade Tillet and Robert Narciso
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Saturday, January 13

12-2pm
Daughters of Yemaya: Spiritual Altar Making
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Wednesday, January 17

12-1pm
Taking Care: A Discussion on Doula and Midwifery Care
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Friday, February 9

12-1pm
In Solidarity of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Thursday, February 22

6-7:30pm
Protecting Black Women & Girls: A Conversation Between A Long Walk Home and A Call To Men
Claudia Cassidy Theater, 2nd Floor West

Saturday, February 24

12-2:30pm
Reimagining Remembering Series: Say Her Name/ Douglass Park
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Sunday, March 10

10am-5pm
Black Girl Takeover: The Black Girlhood Altar Festival
Michigan Avenue Galleries, 1st Floor East

Online Reservation

Black Girl Takeover is a series of art activations led by Black women, girl, and genderqueer artists of the landmark exhibition, Freedom Square: The Black Girlhood Altar hosted by A Long Walk Home at The Chicago Cultural Center. The workshops throughout the entire building will allow participants to engage in wellness, image-making, and artistic practices that are central to Black Girlhood.


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