The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art hosted its annual exhibit at Navy Pier. The three day monumental exhibit showcased hundreds of contemporary art pieces. The highlight of the exhibit was the Black artists who created works using Black women as their muses. These Black artists took the time to celebrate Black women in a way that’s culturally visible, impactful, and divine.

Roger Carter
Say Her Name, 2020

Photo credit: Ayeshah Plummer

Roger Carter is a Chicago visual artist who uses toy soldiers to create textures through the portrayal of societal figures. This piece encapsulates Breonna Taylor and the “Say Her Name” slogan. Taylor was shot and killed by law enforcement in Louisville, KY.

Even though no officers were charged with the crime, Carter made a tribute in Taylor’s honor. Carter posted a video of the piece and wrote “Our Pain Is Not For Sale.”

Gio Swaby
New Growth, 2019-2020

Photo credit: Ayeshah Plummer

Gio Swaby is a Bahamian textile and visual artist. She uses fabrics and portraits of Black women in a multilayered way. Swaby’s depictions of Black women are rooted in love. They create an inquiry about vulnerability amongst Black Women that preserves their strength and influence.

“It is a celebration of Blackness and creates space for Black people, especially Black women and girls, to be represented with honour and reverence,” she stated on her website.

On April 8, Swaby premiered her exhibit “Fresh Up,” at The Art Institute of Chicago. It will run through July 3.

Alfred Conteh
LORETTA (MS. T), 2022

Photo credit: Kavi Gupta Gallery

Alfred Conteh is Sierra Leonean and Black American portraitist. His influence derives from his background as well as disparities amongst Black southerners. He offers a sense of humility and humanity with his subjects. Conteh portrayed “Miss Loretta T,” with a “scowl” on her face. Conteh says the look has little to do with her personality and he painted Loretta with this brief expression to address the angry black woman trope.

“It’s one of the most problematic and damning phrases in the American lexicon. Those misconceptions can acutely affect people’s lives,” Conteh said to Kavi Gupta’s Gallery.

David Mcgee
The Teller of Fortunes, 2023

Photo credit: Ayeshah Plummer

David Mcgee is a watercolor painter who uses race and historical art as his inspiration. The Teller of Fortunes signifies a Black muse who appears beautiful, valiant, and confident.

“His work explores a variety of subjects expanding towards the emotional weights of race, language, signs and signifiers, art history, and the recognition of existence, both individual and collective,” Mcgee’s representative, The Inman Gallery, said.