E-News January 2022

Gabrielle Lyon, Executive Director

Read Time 4 minutes
January 27, 2022

January 27, 2022

Dear Friends,

Last Wednesday evening I participated in Futures, World-Building, and Art: Virtual Workshop. It’s part of Illinois Humanities’ popular free public reading program, Rememory: Haunting, Trauma, and Historical Fiction.

The workshop was hosted in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ian Damont Martin and Sam Ramos. The duo guided us to look closely at artworks and find words to describe feelings and ideas the pieces evoked (beginning with Africa Restored (Cheryl as Cleopatra) by Kerry James Marshall, pictured above). We linked these to Octavia Butler’s Kindred, one of the anchor books for the reading program.

Image 3 2

Africa Restored (Cheryl as Cleopatra) (2003) by Kerry James Marshall | Art Institute of Chicago

After closely observing Peter Blume’s “The Rock,” we each had a chance to imagine our own new world and make a list of words describing it. Ian and Sam prompted us to select one word from our list and plug it into the Art Institute’s collection database: suddenly scores of images, sculptures, media appeared on our screens and our imagined worlds were connected through time and space to artworks from across the world.

The experience was rich, surprising, fun, and provocative. It was a visceral, public demonstration of how the humanities can be used to build community and help us imagine the future world we want to see. It was the humanities in action.

These continue to be dynamic and unpredictable times. Taking an hour or so to be part of our next ReMemory event, a Road Scholars program, visiting one of the democracy-focused exhibitions making their way across the state, or tuning in to WTTW’s screening and discussion of Apart, can help bring some relief from the cacophony.

Be well,

Gabrielle Lyon, Executive Director

Photo: The Rock (1944/48) by Peter Blume | Art Institute of Chicago


This month, Illinois Humanities sat down with Rachel Lappin, the Executive Director of the Jacoby Arts Center, to discuss Untold Black Stories: A Downtown Alton Visual Listening Tour.

Over the course of 2021, the Jacoby Arts Center partnered with other local cultural, community, and economic development entities to expand upon and engage the public with the “Untold Black Stories” project conducted by AllTown USA and StoryCorps.

“These are personal stories of family devotion, faith, dedication to hard work, friendship, honor, and reciprocity. They are filled with laughter, humility, and respect. They help us find our way back to one another and imagine a more inclusive society.”

Read the full interview on our website at:



This past fall we hosted local video premieres and community dialogues celebrating the release of our Visions of Justice series. Visions of Justice explored the far-reaching impacts of mass incarceration in Illinois by asking contributors around the state how they envision a just society and what we would need to do to achieve their vision.

Panel discussions and dialogues were held in Bloomington-Normal, Carbondale, Chicago, Decatur, East St. Louis, Galesburg, and Urbana-Champaign. These community video screenings culminated in a statewide conversation, Visions of Justice: Illinois.

Envisioning Justice Fellow Meredith Nnoka wrote a round-up of what our panelists had to say on four points of overlap across Illinois communities featured in Visions of Justice. Read more HERE:


Illinois Road Scholars
Family Heirloom Recipes
Catherine Lambrecht
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Cherry Valley Public Library District, 755 E State St, Cherry Valley, IL 61016

Apart: A WTTW Community Screening and Discussion
February 17, 4pm CST

Join WTTW and Illinois Humanities at 4:00 pm CT on Thursday, February 17 for Apart, a new film in the Independent Lens series followed by a virtual conversation. 2020 Public Humanities Awardee Sylvia Ewing will moderate a panel that includes Reuben Jonathan Miller, University of Chicago; Meredith Nnoka, llinois Humanities Envisioning Justice Fellow; and Colette Payne, Women’s Justice Institute Reclamation Project.

Rememory: Haunting, Trauma, and Historical Fiction

Afrofuturism, A Virtual Dialogue with Ytasha Womack and John Jennings
Wednesday, February 23, 2022


Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
Illinois Freedom Project
Open now thru February 5, 2022
Vespasian Warner Public Library District, 310 N Quincy St, Clinton, IL 61727

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
February 12-March 16, 2022
General John A. Logan Museum, 1613 Edith St, Murphysboro, IL 62966

Illinois Freedom Project
February 12-March 16, 2022
African American Museum of Southern Illinois, 1237 E Main St, Carbondale, IL 62902


Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson
Dr. William and Mrs. Rosemary Lawson Poetry Prize
Deadline for Applications
March 1, 2022

Activate History Grants
Deadline for Applications
March 1, 2022

Odyssey Project
Enrollment Opens
March 1, 2022

Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry
Applications open through May 6, 2022 for all K-12 Illinois Residents