Born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1926, Carolyn moved to Carbondale, Illinois, in 1949 to teach art at the Allyn Training School at Southern Illinois University. After marrying George Plochmann in 1950, Carolyn became a full-time studio artist, spent her summers in Woodstock, New York, and was represented by the Kennedy Galleries in New York from 1970-2005.
This sculpture was a gift to the people of the State of Illinois from French vermouth producer Noilly-Prat. This was one of many gifts packed into vintage railway box cars known as the Merci Train, or French Gratitude Train, of 1949. The purpose of this gift was to acknowledge the more than $40 million in food and aid collected in 1947 by private citizens in the United States and sent to France and Italy after World War II.
Miyoko Ito was an important artist in Chicago, admired by her contemporaries for her distinctive approach to painting. Her delicate, quick brush strokes and remarkable color combinations give her paintings a lively pulse. Ito was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Berkeley, California. She developed artistically under the influence of a wide range of movements and revolutions in the arts: Cubism, Bauhaus, Abstract Expressionism, and individual artists as diverse as Pablo Picasso, Hans Hoffman, and Paul Cezanne.
In 1916, at the age of 8, Marion Perkins moved from Arkansas to Chicago to live with his aunt, joining the ranks of over 500,000 African Americans who moved to Chicago from the south during a period now referred to as the Great Migration. He lived in Bronzeville, Chicago’s predominately African American neighborhood and home to many of its most outstanding writers and artists.
Barack Obama served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He was also the first African American to assume the presidency. Previously, Obama served in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 until 2004 and then as United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.
This is a portrait of Congressman Oscar de Priest (1871-1951), an outspoken critic of the segregation of minorities in government. De Priest was not the first African American to serve in congress, but he was the first in the 20th century and the single minority voice for three decades. De Priest understood that he represented not only his Chicago district but the entire black population of the United States.
When Illinois entered the Union in 1818 as a free state, vestiges of slavery still existed, and African Americans lived under restrictive laws that limited their freedom. These laws, commonly called the Black Code, denied them the right to vote, assemble in groups, testify in court, or bear arms.
John Jones arrived in Chicago with his wife, Mary Richardson, in 1845. He was a self-made man with no formal education who went on to develop a thriving tailoring business, invest in real estate, and by 1860, become one of the nation's wealthiest African Americans. In 1871, Jones was elected the first African American Commissioner for Cook County.
Sheldon Peck moved from upstate New York to Babcock's Grove (present day Lombard, Illinois) in 1837, living with his wife, Harriet, in a covered wagon while he built his farm house. He farmed and raised sheep while also traveling the Illinois countryside painting portraits. Peck was a self-taught artist. His portraits follow many of the conventions of the 19th century, with broad flat areas of color and a stiff and starched formality. Peck would paint his sitter’s face in person and then finish the clothing and backgrounds at his home.
This very fine miniature portrait is an example of a personal keepsake that could be carried or worn as jewelry as a memento of a friend or loved one in the days prior to photography. The artist, Philip Jenkins, was living in Kentucky at the time this portrait was thought to have been painted. The sitter, Isaac Dutcher, had recently moved to Quincy, Illinois, in 1838 from New York.