Race? Who Said Anything About Race? | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

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Race? Who Said Anything About Race?

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At 26, with a year to go on his MFA at the School of the Art Institute, Rashid Johnson is a bit young for a retrospective, but his solo show at the Noyes Cultural Center--a sampling of photography and sculpture from the past few years--explains the buzz about him. Johnson has said his work is not thematic, but his tightly focused portraits suggest an emotionally charged context, and his photograms, done with a 19th-century process in which he places objects on chemically treated paper and exposes them to the sun, spell it out--literally. Negro consists of the word itself written in letters made of cottonseed and black-eyed peas; other works bear titles like Uncle Tom and I Talk White. Pink Lotion Box is a Plexiglas oblong filled with Luster's Pink Oil Moisturizer Hair Lotion. But Johnson's work's not about race, he says--he's just going where the medium takes him. The show'll be up through July 15 at the gallery, 927 Noyes in Evanston. It's open daily from 10 to 6, but closed July 4 and 5; call 847-448-8260. You can also get a glimpse of Johnson's work in the exhibit "Books and Shelves" at the College of DuPage's Gahlberg Gallery. His contribution is The Contemporary Black Male Literature Starter Kit, a shrink-wrapped collection of volumes by writers ranging from Baldwin to Kafka. The Gahlberg show runs through August 21 at 425 Fawell in Glen Ellyn; hours are 11 to 3 Mondays (except July 5) through Thursdays, plus 6 to 8 on Thursdays and 11 to 3 on Saturdays. Call 630-942-2321.

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