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3 Chicago Creatives Are On A Mission To Effect Diversity And Social Change

Melanie Medrano | December 29, 2020 | Lifestyle

Discover a trio of 3Arts Award-winning artists with a mission to effect diversity and social change.

aMoratorium2-0001.jpgDedrick “D. Banks” Gray on the shoulders of Solomon Bowser performing aMoratorium, choreographed by J’Sun Howard

J’Sun Howard

For J’Sun Howard (@jsunhoward), dance is a practice of freedom. And that practice is what he used to develop aMoratorium in commission for the Art Institute of Chicago. The intimate performance explores Black male identity, visibility and death relating to Black spiritual traditions and church. When working on this project, Howard wanted to collaborate with other artists who have their own perspectives on what it means to be a Black man during this time. The impact he hopes to make with his art? To change the perceptions of what Black people can or can’t do in society and on stage, and to “create work that teaches us how to live with one another.”

9-0003.jpgLuis Álvaro Sahagun Nuño, “Lo Que Grita Mi Piel”

Luis Álvaro Sahagun Nuño

Citing his recent obsession with beads in paintings and sculptures, artist Luis Álvaro Sahagun Nuño incorporates his culture and experiences as a Latinx man into his works. “I use art as a tool for sparking interventions and to create spaces where uncomfortable conversations about race, class and gender can occur in order to reshape cultural biases,” he says. Nuño’s recent exhibit, Eagle and Serpent, is centered around conversations of gender, power and survival, and coincides with his hope that viewers will have expanded views on cultural visibility beyond the stereotypical. After losing his mother during the coronavirus pandemic, Nuño has vowed to transfer his grief into wisdom and art as he continues to create.

GLPAC1.jpgJunius Paul’s album ISM is available now on major platforms. Here, the musician playing an upright bass.

Junius Paul

Creating honest and truthful art from the heart is Junius Paul’s musical philosophy. Inspired by his mentors and those who surround him, the musician incorporates different genres and influences into his songs. “Fred Anderson’s Velvet Lounge was definitely the place where I had the most space to learn how to become a true professional artist and creative musician,” Paul says. It’s his hope that listeners will enjoy not only the melodies, but also feel the honesty he attempts to convey in each composition. One of the beautiful aspects of music, Paul says, is the diversity of the reception people can (and do) have.



Photography by: From top: Kiam Marcelo Junio; Luis Álvaro Sahagun Nuño; Duane Savage