From Sears to Civil Rights

An exhibition of works by African American artists honors Julius Rosenwald

Julius Rosenwald, a prominent Chicago businessman (he was a founder and part-owner of Sears, Roebuck & Company) and philanthropist (he donated millions to champion African American education and leadership along with numerous other causes), is the subject of a new exhibition at the Spertus Museum in the Loop. "A Force for Change," which opens on Sunday, Feb. 8 and runs through August 16, is the first exhibition to explore the enduring legacy of the Rosenwald Fund.

The Julius Rosenwald Fund was created in 1917 to foster black leadership through the arts, literature and education. Between 1928 and 1948, more than $70 million was donated to public schools, museums and institutions, while also awarding stipends to hundreds of established and emerging African American artists, writers and scholars working in such disciplines as history, sociology, literature, and the visual and performing arts.

"A Force for Change" will feature more than 60 works, including paintings, sculpture and works on paper by 22 Rosenwald fellows, as well as a short documentary film and other archival materials. Many of the artists showcased are among the leaders of their era, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Katherine Dunham, Jacob Lawrence, Gordon Parks, Rose Piper, Augusta Savage, Charles White, Hale Woodruff and more. The exhibition will travel to the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania and the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey following the Spertus presentation.

Special events for the opening of "A Force for Change" include a free exhibition preview on Thursday, Feb. 5 from 5:30-8PM, and an opening weekend tour led by guest curator Daniel Schulman on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 3PM followed by a lecture, "African American Art and Patronage," by Dr. Richard J. Powell at 4PM.

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