Navy Pier showcases locally made art for Black History Month and beyond

Chicago’s Navy Pier is celebrating Black History Month by shining a spotlight on Black art and artisans. 

Free programming in February includes the "PERSPECTIVE Fine Art Exhibition" in Festival Hall. The collection of more than 55 artworks created by some of the world’s top Black visual artists opened in October, but is now extended through Feb. 29. 

"Our partnership with Navy Pier has just been phenomenal in bringing this kind of exhibition to the public," said D.E. Simmons, Executive Director of Diasporal Rhythms. "It’s our mission to promote and have people appreciate and be aware of this art, and to acquire it," he said.

Also free, are a series of workshops being offered by the Women’s LIVE Artist Studio in the pier’s Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion. 

"We have a live artist daily. It might be painting, it might be sewing, crocheting or making jewelry, said Dana Todd Pope, co-founder.  

For Black History Month, the artists are sharing their skills. 

"I think art is very healing," Todd Pope said. "We’ve been through a lot these last few years. And I think it’s important for people to have different outlets. Art is a fun way to hang out with your friends, and a way to work through some things."

The month-long Black Makers Market is a familiar highlight of Black History Month at Navy Pier. On Saturdays in February, African-American artisans, designers and entrepreneurs display their original products for sale also at the Family Pavilion.

"Commemorating Black History Month with programming that’s meaningful and accessible speaks to Navy Pier’s mission," said Pier president and CEO Marilynn Gardner. "As the people’s pier, it is our opportunity and responsibility to provide access to diverse experiences, ensuring that guests of all communities and backgrounds see themselves reflected in the programs we present, the art we curate and the stories we tell."