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Exhibition: Past Gravity Pleasure SwitchbackMay 19–Aug 05, 2023

Derrick Woods-Morrow, Invitation to Access. Courtesy the artist


Gravity Pleasure Switchback, the first major solo exhibition of Derrick Woods-Morrow, manifests itself as a euphoric dream state containing the phases and spaces inhabited by Black American Southerners. Wavering between life and death, rest and the hustle of everyday life, the exhibition is grounded in the exploration of the body as a place of boundless possibility. Woods-Morrow engages everyday materials to accentuate the vast shine, grit, and tangible labor being performed in private domesticity. Moreover, he expands on the perverse demand for Black folx to limitlessly power the public sphere.

Gravity Pleasure Switchback locates and entangles the exchanges of sexuality, desire, and the casual consumption of these energies. Inspired by Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being, this installation performs wake work, embodies the ruptures, and unearths the complex relationship of private and public pleasure. Demanding visitors pay close attention, the exhibition unravels the remnants of rest and ruin.


Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Derrick Woods Morrow’s work reflects on his experience growing up in the Black American South and centers on the exploration of Black sexuality and the complex journey through this discovery. Woods-Morrow’s practice spans photography, film, installation, performance, and sculpture to capture and illustrate the queering of Blackness and the spaces in which this takes place. His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Schwules Museum in Berlin; the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; and UIC Gallery 400, among many other institutions across the world. He has completed residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2022), The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (2021), Antenna Works (2020/21), Chicago Artists Coalition (2018), the Fire Island Artist Residency (2016) and ACRE (2015).

He is the recipient of the 3Arts Camargo Foundation Fellowship (2023), the Rhode Island MacColl Johnson Fellowship (2023), the Uprise Grant from the Sundance Film Institute (2021), the 3Arts Gary and Denise Gardner Fund Award (2021), and the Artadia Award–Chicago (2018). Woods-Morrow holds a Schiller Family Assistant Professorship in Race in Art and Design and teaches sculpture, painting, and textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design.


Derrick Woods-Morrow


Support for Gravity Pleasure Switchback is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the School of Art & Art History, College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, University of Illinois Chicago.


Gallery 400 is wheelchair accessible with no stairs to enter and an elevator to the gallery.  There are two single use gender neutral restrooms on the same floor as the gallery.  Staff are available to assist with the doors of these bathrooms, as they are heavy.  There are accessible, multi-stall, gendered restrooms available on the higher floors in the building.

All gallery text and image/visual descriptions are available as audio via QR codes. Staff is available to support in identifying QR code placement. Screen reader friendly formats will be available soon.

Several of the exhibition’s installations have sound. Quiet space is available in the Gallery 400 library, accessible with the assistance of Gallery 400 staff.

Gallery 400 is easily accessible via public transit. The Blue Line CTA stops a 1/2 block from Gallery 400 at the UIC-Halsted station, which has an elevator. The #8 Halsted bus stops three blocks from the Gallery. From the loop the #126 Jackson bus stops at Van Buren and Peoria, across the intersection from Gallery 400.

Parking is available at UIC’s Harrison Street Parking Structure located four blocks from the Gallery at 1100 W Harrison St. From there, travel to the Gallery east on Harrison past Morgan and UIC’s Academic and Residential Complex (ARC) to the CTA bridge over the freeway. Cross the bridge to get to Gallery 400 a 1/2 block north of the bridge.

Gravity Pleasure Switchback Access