In Progress: Black Photo Futures

  • The Commons
    Second Floor, East Side
    220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Featured images

Zakkiyyah Najeebah
Photo: G'Jordan Williams
Tonika L. Johnson
Photo: Matthew Avignone
G’Jordan Williams
Photo: G’Jordan Williams
W. D. Floyd
Photo: Zakkiyyah Najeebah


Focusing on the work and ideas of W. D. Floyd and Tonika L. Johnson, Zakkiyyah Najeebah moderates a conversation rooted in the trajectory of their work as it relates to promoting black empowerment, representation, and love as it thrives on the West and South Side of Chicago. This conversation is part of an ongoing dialogue/visual project titled Black Photo Futures (BPF) that centers the work and philosophies of black identified photographers and lens-based artists. BPF prioritizes the critical connections between black photographic practices and the need for diverse representations of black communities and stories.

Following the presentation and discussion, a collective dialogue is facilitated by Exposure. Exposure is a collective of concerned black photographers who wish to exchange ideas and photo methods. Cofounded by Najeebah and G'Jordan Williams, Exposure’s mission is to share and explore the methods that have been utilized to create meaningful work, and to offer suggestions as to how we can continue to build a photographic archive that conserves black identities/cultures.

In Progress is a new series of public programs that gives visitors a glimpse into the working practices of artists, curators, and creative thinkers.


About the Speakers

Zakkiyyah Najeebah is a Chicago-based photographic artist, educator, and documentarian. The aesthetic components and intersectional cultural advancements that are entirely unique to the black experience is a primary concern of hers. Najeebah uses photographic imagery to address the politics and aesthetic values of representation, inclusivity, black womanhood, family histories, and collective narratives. Often her work takes place in the realm of portraiture, documentation, image-making, and educating. Although working primarily in lens-based art, she has recently expanded into video and mixed media to complicate her concerns. She is currently building a catalogue that articulates current and past social concerns regarding black narratives and is exploring new methods of black visual presentation.

W. D. Floyd is a Chicago-based multidisciplinary practitioner. With over 10 years of experience as an educator and developmental practitioner, his body of work focuses on the exploration and use of cultural assets as a mechanism for community transformation. Floyd believes that real change is bottom up, not top down, and people have the power to shape their existence. Therefore, he promotes critical consciousness and the obtainment of creative and technical skill sets as a means to promote will and self-determination. A major focus of Floyd's work addresses the impacts of toxic stereotypes on black male identity formation. He believes healing practices such as documentation, dialogue, and reflection are imperative in the expansion of black male expression. Through his pedagogical and artistic practices, Floyd works with others to employ a critical imagination as a means to bring forth an alternative to toxic black masculinity.

Tonika Johnson is a visual artist/photographer from the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. She received her BA in journalism and photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2003 and her MBA from National-Louis University in 2005. In December, she was featured in Chicago Magazine as a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year. This year, her two Englewood-based photography projects, From the INside and Everyday Rituals, has been exhibited at Rootwork Gallery in Pilsen, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Harold Washington Library Center. In February 2018, selected work from her two projects are on exhibit at Loyola University's Museum of Art (LUMA). She is currently working on a new photography project illustrating Chicago's residential segregation, which will be exhibited at LUMA in fall 2018.

G'Jordan Williams is a photographer, library sciences enthusiast, and lover of all things beautiful. Seeing art as language, he’s compelled to use mediums to communicate with himself and others, especially when connecting with the rest of the Black Diaspora.