One of Chicago’s leading art galleries has teamed up with one of the city’s top rappers.
Victor Kwesi Mensah, better known as Vic Mensa, is the founder of hip-hop collective Savemoney, which includes Chance the Rapper and Joey Purp.
Vic Mensa hosted an art exhibit in the West Loop which is currently taking place at the Kavi Gupta Gallery.
“Music is what made me travel the world and it’s my passion, but I’m not limited to just one form of expression either,” Mensa said.
His latest expression is a show called “Skin and Masks”. He was inspired by Frantz Fanon, the influential 20e thinker of the century and author of “Black Skin, White Masks”.
“It’s his seminal text, and it dissects the psychological ramifications of colonialism, white supremacy and imperialism and all those things, and I felt that concept might relate well to an art exhibit” , said Mensa.
Mensa invited old friends like Hebru Brantley to contribute to the work.
The exhibit includes a portrait of a young Emmett Till and his father, Louis Till, from old photographs.
Other works chosen by Mensa reflect his interest in getting more representation on gallery walls.
“A lot of his ideology aligns with the gallery’s ideology of really making things more accessible and getting back into the community and making sure everyone’s voices are heard and individual visions of each are amplified”,
said Chanelle Lacy of Kavi Gupta.
Mensa’s voice was first amplified when he was a teenager with the band Kids These Days.
Most recently, the Hyde Park native collaborated with Chance the Rapper. He also started a foundation, SameMoneySaveLife, which aims to help people in Chicago and the Republic of Ghana in West Africa.
“A quote from James Baldwin moves me, and it’s: ‘Know where you come from. That way there are no limits to where you can go,’ and I believe that’s the philosophy of what we’re creating in Ghana right now,” he said.
Lacy said it was refreshing for the gallery to work with someone outside of the mainstream art world ecosystem.
“I want people to take away that young people have something to say, you know, that we have ideas about imagination, about the future,” Mensa said. “We have perspectives influenced by, but not limited to, the past and that right now of, whoa, sometimes it feels like a culmination of societal ills and the crucible of wrongdoing in the America boiling it is, it is art and it is poetry and its film will carry the bastion of revolution and be the ones to imagine and dream of solutions to the problems we face.
“Skin and Masks” at the Kavi Gupta Gallery, 219 N. Elizabeth St., runs through August 13. For more information, visit kavigupta.com.