concrete, rose.

Join us for a new exhibit from celebrated Chicago artist and collector Patric McCoy in collaboration with the Chicago premiere of Champion. The exhibit, called “concrete, rose.” is the fourth installment of Patric McCoy’s seminal collection of Black male vernacular photography, curated by Viktor L. Ewing-Givens of Southern Android productions. This archive of images gives a photojournalistic glimpse into both the personal and the political landscape of Chicago’s not-so-distant-past.

Patric McCoy’s “concrete, rose.” is set against the backdrop of 80’s house music blaring in public spaces during the height of the Harold Washington era and HIV/AIDS epidemic. The characters in the images are much like Emile Griffith, Afro-diasporic men navigating the fine lines between the personal and socially accepted. These men are brothers, nephews, and sons who developed the skills to push past survival to carve moments of tender peace, unadulterated pleasure, and spirited embodiment.

Exhibit hours at Lyric Opera House are Monday through Friday, 9:30am - 11:30am and 2 hours prior to and during every performance of Champion and Cinderella.

Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it's dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.

― Tupac Shakur

About the Photographer

During the 1980s, art collector and environmental scientist, Patric McCoy Resolved to teach himself 35mm photography. He carried his camera with him at all times, taking at least one picture per day, photographing any individual who asked to have their portrait taken. In the evenings McCoy would make 5” by 7” prints of the portraits and carry them with him as he went about his day, distributing the prints to his subjects as they chanced upon one another again. Thus McCoy became an inadvertent photojournalist, shooting thousands of negatives and creating one of the largest and richest photographic documents of a Chicago demimonde that is largely unrepresented in histories of the city. McCoy’s visual curiosities are informed by a lineage of image makers, artisans and heritage preservationists dating back to the early 1900’s. McCoy recalls his great grandmother's extensive photo albums that detailed his family's migration from the rural south to Chicago and Detroit. Patric was greatly influenced by his father’s incessant creative outputs as a craftsman, painter and avid reader of world encyclopedias.

Building upon his passion for collecting art, McCoy co-founded Diasporal Rhythms in 2003. Diasporal Rhythms is a not-for-profit arts organization that promotes the collection of art works by living artists of African descent. The collective was founded to address the need for organized action by art collectors to expand the appreciation of contemporary visual art created by artists of the African diaspora. Entangled within the political mission of the organization is a preservative one: to archive the history of black art as it’s happening, recognizing the artists who are creating it while they’re still around.

McCoy says: “You’re part of the responsibility to preserve, to promote it, to get it out there, to recognize that which is done that’s very good, to validate that, to push forward those images that are important for you”. McCoy’s has helped mentor well over 100 of Chicago's artists’ to push the boundaries of critical black cultural production. His personal collection contains more than one thousand paintings, drawings, sculptures, collages, and assemblages of African American art.

About the Curator

There is magic, reverence, and mystery in the spaces, objects, and writings of Viktor L. Ewing.

Givens, a multimodal performance artist whose practice centers around the gathering and arrangement of ancestral objects to re-contextualize the seemingly mundane into the spectacularly sacred. Though the form is different, Givens’s work is a continuation and adaptation of the methods used by storytellers, like Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, who find truth in their bodies and use the whispers of archaeological sites to piece together Afro-Atlantic pasts. By connecting the material culture of his ancestors with precolonial and postmodern spiritual technologies, Givens works to fabricate spaces that inspire the activation of cultural and spiritual (re)memory. a native of Houston, Texas, Givens is the middle child of three sons, born the fall of 1987  his curiosities and imaginings are fed by a lineage of spirit workers, teachers, makers, and civic leaders from the Edo tribe of Nigeria. Givens holds a BA from Fisk University and an MA and MFA from Columbia College Chicago. He is the founding creative director of Southern Android Productions, an ongoing cultural research project that explores the healing and creative powers of the archives as a site for creative regeneration. This project is a continued effort to reposition archival elements for contemporary reimagining A lover of improvisational dance, cornbread, and black-eyed peas Viktor is currently restoring rural estate properties to establish a cultural arts residency program on lands stewarded by his peoples in Crockett Texas since 1881.