Navy Pier Commemorates Black History Month with a Spotlight on Black Art and Artisans

Navy Pier will celebrate Black History Month with a rich tapestry of free programming showcasing the artistic and cultural vibrancy of the Black community in Chicago and beyond. Plans call for the month-long return of Navy Pier’s Black Makers Market, an extension of the groundbreaking PERSPECTIVE fine art exhibition, and interactive workshops hosted by guest artists from Women’s Live Artist Studio.

“Commemorating Black History Month with programming that’s meaningful and accessible speaks to Navy Pier’s mission,” said Navy Pier President and CEO Marilynn Gardner. “As the People’s Pier, it is our opportunity and responsibility to provide access to diverse experiences, ensuring that guests of all communities and backgrounds see themselves reflected in the programs we present, the art we curate, and the stories we tell.”

Black Makers Market presented by Allstate – every Saturday in February, 12 – 6 p.m.

Over the course of four February Saturdays, more than three dozen local African American artisans, designers, and entrepreneurs will take over Navy Pier’s Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion to display their original products for sale. Presented by Allstate, the Black Makers Market will feature 10 different vendors each weekend in collaboration with Sunshine Enterprises. Sunshine Enterprises is a Chicago small business incubator supporting the growth of businesses in under-resourced neighborhoods through training, coaching, and resource connections.

Participating vendors include: A Versatile YouTM, Apothecary Grove, Creative Finds On A Dime, Dark Skin Drama, Dawning Day Creations (dba DDC WRAPS), Superhero Huff, AmiRa Healing Earth DeZigns, Bathe, and Meraki Collection, among others.

Diasporal Rhythms PERSPECTIVE Art Exhibit – daily through Feb. 29

Navy Pier is extending Diasporal Rhythms’ groundbreaking exhibition of fine contemporary Black art, PERSPECTIVE, through February. Showcasing the beauty of Black art, culture, and community through more than 55 significant works created by some of the world’s top Black visual artists, PERSPECTIVE has received an overwhelming response from Chicagoans and visitors from around the world since its Navy Pier premiere in October 2023. The exhibition is open free to the public and housed on the lower level of the Pier’s Festival Hall.

“The idea of having our PERSPECTIVE exhibition at Navy Pier was to transform this international entertainment space into a gallery where Black art could be experienced and appreciated by a world audience,” said curator Raymond A. Thomas. “We have been overwhelmed with the response and are delighted that the show has been extended.”

As part of Diasporal Rhythms’ ongoing mission to educate a broader audience in the knowledge of contemporary Black artists and guide collectors to reflect on the impact of their collections on society as a whole, two free PERSPECTIVE ArtSmart events will be presented in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, Room 301, during February: 

Feb. 3 (1 to 3 p.m.) – Black Women in Clay: Legacies and New Directions, a panel discussion featuring Chicago-based Black women artists working in the ceramic medium. Panelists include Malika Jackson, Chris LaRue, Juarez Hawkins, Lola Ayisha Ogbara, Cristal Sabbagh and Kenya Cree.

Feb. 17 (1 to 3 p.m.) – Capturing the Culture in Stained Glass featuring artist Theadore Feaster.

Admission for both events is free. Register online at

Black History Month Workshops hosted by Women’s Live Artist Studio – every Saturday in February,

12 – 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 – 6 p.m.

Women’s Live Artist Studio is offering visitors a unique opportunity to engage with artists and create

alongside them during four free Black History Month workshops. Guest artists include:

Feb. 3 – Candace Hunter, collage making

Feb. 10 – Lois Stone, abstract painting

Feb. 17 – Ladetria Warren, jewelry making

Feb. 24 – Hyero – crochet

Women’s Live Artist Studio is a community of Chicago-based, predominately African American, female artists who create, display, and sell their art year-round from Navy Pier’s Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion, near Chicago Children’s Museum. Members come from a variety of backgrounds and mediums, but share a common goal of empowering women in the art world.

Free Mixology Classes at Windy City Ribs – select dates and times throughout February

Black Owned Business Windy City Ribs will host a conversation and cocktail sampling, “The Evolution of Black Spirits,” on Thursday, Feb. 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The free, 21+ event will be presented in collaboration with Brown and Balanced and feature mixologist Josh David for a discussion on the history of Black spirits.

Windy City Ribs will also host free “Whiskey Wednesdays” mixology classes from 5 to 7 p.m. throughout the month of February in collaboration with Alexander James Whiskey. Reservations are required and guests must be 21 or older. The first 10 guests to register for each session will receive a complimentary

branded glass. Themes include: 

Feb. 7 – Supply and Demand

Feb. 14 – Love Letter

Feb. 21 – Rye Rita

Feb. 28 – Old Fashion

Note: All artists and dates are subject to change.

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