Common Ground strives to be the center of a vibrant inclusive community, and one that is alive with art.
Newest Outdoor Art Installation featuring six Illinois Black Artists:
Common Ground is celebrating the work of six Illinois Black artists in our newest outdoor art installation. With the intention of bolstering these artists and showcasing their work to our community, we have commissioned some of their existing art centering around BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) as the main subject. This outdoor installation will be up through the rest of the year to spread joy and empowerment during this trying time. Below, you can read more about Mooki, Haiku, Kofi Bazzell-Smith, Nailah Davis, Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure, and Keenan Dailey and ways you can further support their art.
Mooki is an aspiring visual development artist whose main focus is to bring diversity to the forefront. She makes concept art inspired by video games, animation and her day to day life. She works with traditional and digital mediums.
Prints and commissions available upon request
I’m Paris, artistically known as Haiku. I’m an aspiring comic artist. Largely, my goal is to show people who come in contact with my art that there are characters that look like them- like me - and have interesting and unique stories to be told.
Commissions available upon request
About Kofi Bazzell-Smith
Kofi Bazzell-Smith is a Champaign based artist working in manga, Japanese-style comics. Kofi speaks Japanese and has studied manga in Japan twice. A U.S.-Japan Bridging Scholar, Kofi also lectures on storytelling and Japanese culture. His YouTube channel, Kofi Manga, teaches lessons on manga production and storytelling.
I think It's easy to say Black Lives Matter without any real thought behind what that means. Life is such a nebulous concept and there are many facets of Black life in America that I believe need to be acknowledged. This thought was the impetus for my illustration series.
Information about Classes, Art, Manga, Commissions, and More
Kofi teaches workshops and lectures via Zoom on several topics:Manga, Storytelling, Comics, Japanese language and culture, Winning scholarships, Succeeding in College.
Currently Kofi produces and sells a series of hand-painted prints featuring Black intellectuals.
Digital and hand painted prints available for purchase. Limited commissions available upon request.
Black Art Matters piece: 5X7" double-sided prints are $5; 5X5 stickers are $5.
Patrons may support work: https://ko-fi.com/kofimanga
Youtube: Kofi Manga
Nailah F. Davis
About Nailah F. Davis
Nailah Fumilayo Davis is a Moroccan/Afro-American, gender nonconforming, multi-disciplinary artist. Originally born in Chicago, Illinois, they are currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Davis received their BFA in photography from Parsons, The New School, and is now a grad student at NYU, Tisch School of the Arts in the Interactive Telecommunications program.
Through multiple disciplines such as photography, performance, mixed media collages, video, and instrumental music, Nailah’s work explores expressions in Africana life, in regard to race, gender, and identity politics. Davis’ work considers an integrative approach to art-making and storytelling by expanding the boundaries of traditional art practices. With an interest in conveying new narratives regarding multi-intersections of Black culture, Davis’ practice behaves as a cultural study that reflects the aesthetics and values of subcultures within the Africana diaspora. Davis is committed to highlighting underrepresented groups, and rejecting conventional Western depictions of Black life in art and mainstream media. With an interest in generating multi-sensorial content, Davis also creates otherworldly and abstract audio-visual performance installations that use creative technology softwares/hardwares and conceptual art practices to explore multi-dimensional storytelling. Through their installations, Davis seeks to create experiences that cultivate thought around liberation and free existence for marginalized groups. Davis provides a unique perspective that draws attention to often ignored dynamics between the storyteller, the viewer and the subject. The work creates a self-autonomous audience by encouraging the confrontation of preconceived racialized notions.
Artist Statement about Confrontation Series
Nailah Davis’ Confrontation Series features studio portraits that were cut out, scanned, and collaged, both digitally and analogously. Davis shot with queer and trans Black people that they met through social media. These mixed media collages call attention to the often ignored dynamics between the viewer and the subject. The gaze from the subject, almost automatically, confronts the viewer. This is amplified through the distortion and exaggeration on the subjects face. Through this series, Davis explores identity by focusing on Black features, by placing emphasis and exaggerativeness around the faces of the subject. This is what allows for viewers to confront their preconceived racialized notions around Black aesthetics and expressions. This work is visually connected to Hip-Hop visual culture, as an attempt to celebrate the range of Black aesthetics.
Images on website available for purchase.
Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure
About Ja Nelle Davenport-Pleasure
I got involved in making art by reusing and recycling what I already have in my possession. Every piece is made from sustainable materials. Nothing can be reproduced. Through this, I have found a wonderful medium to turn trash into beautiful works of art of course that is not all I do. I use my many gifts and talents in the literary world, as well as dance and fashion to teach people ways to unleash their creative minds. I find that by using these skills I can be one of many who can build a community with others and strengthen the stagnant brains to think outside themselves. I want to bring together collective souls that encourage, strengthen, and have them support one another. I want to embody a pathway for people to explore themselves internally and externally through art. I am comical and silly and I truly enjoy bringing people from all walks of life together to share, to explore, to uplift through art.
Facebook: Royel Bijou Designs
Work available for purchase on website. Commissions available upon request.
About Keenan Dailey
"I am a multidisciplinary afrofuturist artist and designer. My work focuses on disenfranchised and marginalized communities. Using empathic systems design thinking, I seek to analyze the ways in which systems of oppression work to destroy and dismantle those very communities and forge harmonious design solutions to help ease and eventually end those communities' suffering. I seek to use my artistic voice in conjunction with my design efforts to share catharsis with those populations who ordinarily wouldn't have the opportunity to express trauma."
Prints available for purchase, contact artist.
Our gallery is located in our highly utilized Flatlander Classroom, a space dedicated to connecting the community, facilitating educational opportunities focusing on healthy living, and providing access to local artists. This multi-use space is ideal for integrating the arts into the urban environment and creating partnerships among artists, the community and business. This year, we will be hosting two artist at a time, allotting each artist a locked case that is 8’ long x 44’’ high x 4’’ wide. We always welcome kids and group shows to apply!