In 2007 I enrolled in UIC’s Art and Design Studio Arts Graduate Program. At the time I was also named the Acting Executive Director and Curator of the South Side Community Art Center. Being enrolled in the studio arts program gave me the ability to figure out how my passion for being an administrator of this space could co-exist with my sculpture practice. Over those two years I experimented with ways to capture all of the conflicts associated with running the South Side Community Art Center and by extension, bring attention to what made the space so special.
I found applying to graduate school to be a very frustrating experience. To be honest, I often felt like the odd man out. My vocabulary of artists and understanding of art history came out my experience of running a predominately black art institution. When people were talking about John Cage, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and the Situationists, I was referencing Margaret Burroughs, Sylvester Britton, Richard Hunt, and AfriCobra. Whereas many other programs weren’t interested in this seemingly marginalized branch of the art world, UIC embraced it and the faculty gave me the support and academic rigor I needed to develop my art and social practice.
The thing that excites me about coming back to UIC, as a Visiting Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Art and Art History, is that I know I will have the ability to advocate for our current and prospective students in the same way the faculty advocated for me.
There are a lot of new and exciting things happening at the College of Art and Architecture and I am happy to come home and be apart of this evolution. Below is a “Kind of Manifesto” about me. I look forward to getting to know you. Go Flames!
Image: Faheem Majeed, Faces I.
A Kind of Manifesto
About me…basically who am I…such a broad and honestly scary question to ask an egotistical artist…wait, is that phrase redundant? Well, I’d say first I’m a husband, then I’m a father, then a member of my community, and then an artist. In this context I don’t consider “artist” last as much as I consider it at the top of a pyramid whose base consists of the other labels. My art is my voice that allows me to express the interactions that result from my life.
Image: Faheem Majeed, Logan Center for the Arts (installation detail).
I have three sons…my wife considers me to be the fourth. I still play my Xbox and PlayStation, which makes me the more popular parent, except when it’s time to do homework. I still watch the Simpsons religiously…along with everything on Fox’s Sunday Animation Domination and I refuse to feel bad about it. Nothing wrong with laughing for the sake of laughing. I’m corny.
Image: Faheem Majeed, Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden I (detail).
I find that I am drawn to odd or broken things…this translates to both objects and people. I think I’m drawn to these kinds of things because of a bottomless curiosity…not necessarily to tear things apart to see how they work but to understand connections and motivations.
I believe in meeting people where they are…sometimes that’s not a good thing but more often than not it has helped me build long-lasting, deep, and loyal relationships. I believe in legacy…there goes that egotistical artist again. But I really believe in leaving something behind that has impact and not just in the visual sense. I am a serial committer even if it means I am the last one in the room. I believe in speaking things into being. I’m not religious but I believe in doing the right thing…it frees up my Sundays.
Image: Faheem Majeed, Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden I.
I struggle with the idea of success. Both having it and not having it.
My mother and father were a social worker and politician respectively and over time I have realized that although it was not my intention or plan, I am becoming them.
Collaboration and community is at the core of my practice as a result of all of these things. Attempting to go above and beyond a single act to actually drive change in a way that others can access, experience and feel.