Local artist uses neighborhood materials for MCA exhibit

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Through the use of materials found in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, up-and-coming artist Faheem Majeed creates artwork that poses questions about activism and civic-mindedness. 

Majeed’s first solo museum exhibition opened March 10 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Ave., and will run through Aug. 16.

Majeed’s artwork is heavily inspired by the South Shore neighborhood. Central to his artis creating works using materials he has found throughout the neighborhood to portray observations he has made about South Shore, Majeed said.

“The materials I use are often metaphors for bigger conversations about my neighborhood and the people I care about,” Majeed said.

One of his favorite materials is particle board, which is used for boarding up abandoned homes and buildings. Majeed said he likes to use it because it does not look like cast-off material and appears more like a painting to him, which is what makes it so attractive.

Another facet of Majeed’s art is taking inspiration in his works from other artists and organizations. For his MCA show at, he said he is collaborating with local organizations that helped advance his artistic career. Some of the organizations he is bringing with him to MCA include the South Shore Community Arts Center and the Dr. Donda West Foundation, formerly known as the Kanye West Foundation, which works to combat the severe high school dropout rates in the U.S. Majeed said his wife is also featured in the exhibition, which helps show the vulnerable and more personal side to his artwork, which is also true of his relationship with the organizations that are joining him in the exhibit.

“[My wife’s participation is] me sharing something personal and close,” Majeed said. “All of the organizations I’m bringing with me to MCA take things that are close to home.”

Steven Bridges, the curator of the exhibit, approached Majeed about the possibility of creating an exhibit a year ago and Majeed accepted. The two also curated a show at the South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan Ave.

“[Majeed] and I share a belief that art can act as a catalyst for change, so my interest in working in the arts and working on social issues is very much a part of his work,” Bridges said. “He was also key in organizing the exhibition at the South Side Community Art Center. He was key in introducing me to the space and opening my eyes to the potential of that collaboration.”

Bridges also said he was drawn to Majeed’s artwork because he approaches art as a verb and works to promote the ideas of action and difficult issues such as activism and civic-mindedness by bringing people together through his art.

“[Majeed’s works] have a grittiness and natural feel to them, and through that he’s willing to address difficult questions,” Bridges said. “In addressing these issues, he’s really looking for positive answers and ways to find common ground and have conversations about them.”

For his first solo exhibition, Majeed said he wants visitors to walk through the space and look for something familiar or have a point of entry for discovering new things.

“I don’t expect people to understand everything that’s happening, but I try to create my work so it has multiple access points,” Majeed said. “No matter what your relationship is with contemporary art, there’s something familiar in it that lets you into the work, the ideas behind the work and discovering new ideas.”