Exhibit highlights history, impact of African American designers in Chicago

CHICAGO — A new exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center highlights the works of local African American designers while exploring the intersections of art, commerce and the politics of race.

The exhibit showcases the contributions Chicago's vibrant African American community made over more than a century. There's the music of labels like Mercury, Delmark and Argo, their sounds recorded in Chicago. And the products of beauty brands like Kashmir and Nile Queen, whose marketing materials tell a story of a community that found its own way after being ignored for years.

There's also a look at Chicago-based Johnson Publishing and its host of popular magazines, from Ebony to Black World, that became a force in politics and media on their own merits.

There are even contributions of artists and designers like Charles Harrison, an industrial designer who moved to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute. Harrison’s many designs are featured, from view masters, to toasters, modern chairs, even design improvements on sewing machines. And there's Chicago-based designer Thomas Miller, who moved to Chicago after World War II, and designed memorable corporate logos including a classic 7-Up design from the 1970s.

The exhibit will be at the Chicago Cultural Center through March 3, 2019.