21c Museum Hotel Chicago today announced the lineup for the first in-person edition of “Curator Conversations,” a free monthly discussion series. Taking place on Tuesday, July 20 at 6 p.m., in the hotel’s Main Gallery, the event will feature Chicago-based artist Emma McKee in conversation with Adia Sykes, 21c Museum Hotel Chicago Museum Manager. “Curator Conversations” brings together Chicago-based curators and artists for in-depth discussions to highlight Chicago’s rich arts community.
Working under the pseudonym Stitch Gawd, McKee is a non-traditional cross-stitcher and is known within Chicago’s rap community as “the only hip-hop cross-stitcher.” McKee and Sykes will discuss McKee’s recent work featuring a 9-foot-tall portrait of Fred Hampton, former Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Following the event, visitors are invited to experience 21c Chicago’s current exhibition on view, This We Believe.
Emma McKee isn’t your average cross stitcher. Born in Kansas City, she was first introduced to the medium through her mother, a British opera singer who frequently attempted to teach Emma how to stitch during her childhood. Yet she always refused to learn, finding the British craft too antiquated — that is, until she found a way to make cross stitching work for her.
In 2014, Emma stitched her first piece: An adaptation of Will Prince’s artwork for Chance the Rapper’s song “Hey Ma.” She followed that with a jacket that Chance wore on the cover of Billboard magazine. Her portfolio expanded from there, as she firmly planted herself within Chicago’s rap community, as the scene’s preeminent — and only — hip-hop cross stitcher, earning the name Stitch Gawd.
Since 2014, she’s created countless pieces for musicians and artists both in and outside Chicago. In 2017 she started exploring large scale non-traditional cross stitch
with an install for Adidas’ Originals windows.
Adia Sykes is the Museum Manager for 21c Chicago, where she organizes a wide range of arts programming, often in collaboration with other cultural and civic organizations, all open and free to the public. Through her independent curatorial practice, Sykes has realized projects in Chicago and abroad with organizations such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Woman Made Gallery, Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Comfort Station, ACRE Projects, and Centro Opificio Siri in Italy.
One of nine locations that form North America’s only multi-venue museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting the art of the 21st century, 21c Chicago’s 10,000+ square feet of exhibition space features rotating solo and group exhibitions and installations curated by Museum Director and Chief Curator Alice Gray Stites. This We Believe features the work of more than 50 notable contemporary artists, including Kara Walker, Yinka Shonibare, and Titus Kaphar and explores the power and evolution of belief systems—religious, political, economic—and how allegiance to ideology has influenced our current global culture of divisiveness and polarization. The museum is located at 55 E Ontario St, Chicago and is open for public visits 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge.