For his very first museum exhibit, the artist and fashion designer says his pieces spoke on race the whole time. The exhibit Figures of Speech is being held at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which is being labeled City Hall for the duration of the exhibition, which was opened yesterday to the public to see.
The first generation Ghanaian-American from Rockford, Illinois is transcendent. While we know him as a fashion designer, he began as an architect. He is skilled in creating sculptures, paintings, furniture, jewelry, and product designs, graphics, and ceramics, which he used to fill the galleries at MCA.
It has only been about 5 years since the world has become familiar with his work, so to be able to have an entire exhibit in a museum is legendary. He said of the moment, “I took it with great responsibility, the opportunity to show in a museum at this stage of my career. You know, that’s not afforded to everyone.”
The museum's director said, “With this exhibition, we are very, very proud to be part of breaking through this latest barrier with Virgil. But we’re also interested in breaking down the barriers of entry for Chicago youth, today, more than ever, many of whom will be coming to the museum for the first time and will be inspired and encouraged to create as a result of this exhibition.”
The exhibition is being viewed as “a tour through Virgil’s career”, sort of like a visual autobiography. He draws his inspiration from Jay-Z and Pharrell, activities like skateboarding, and even white architects. He said his biggest inspiration came a short walk away from the museum.
Abloh, the CEO of Off-White said, “The grid system of the city itself, the way that Chicago is set up, obviously is like, pretty distinct markers, but everything sort of connects to the center; you know, just where we’re at MCA. Me and the collective of artists such as Kanye and our, sort of, crew, we all met at that center, bout a block away from the museum because we always felt the museum wasn’t in dialogue with anything that we were interested in, but Louis Vuitton was, or Nike was, or Ralph Lauren was.”
The exhibition opened yesterday, June 10 and will run through September 22. The exhibit features a design challenge that runs through July 12, for those creatives who are trying to get their foot in the door of a very difficult industry to crack. Abloh said of the exhibit and the challenge, “It’s to make that journey from what I had to do to get this stage in my career, make it 10 times shorter for those looking for that avenue.”