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ANNOUNCEMENT: The Inaugural Exhibition at the Chicago Justice Gallery

the front of the building that is the Chicago Justice Gallery

The Social Justice Initiative presents, Belonging: Power, Place, and (Im)Possibilities, the inaugural exhibition at the Chicago Justice Gallery featuring the work of Tonika L. Johnson.

Media Contact: Essence McDowell, Associate Director,


Belonging: Power, Place, and (Im)Possibilities: The inaugural exhibition at the Chicago Justice Gallery presented by the Social Justice Initiative featuring the work of Tonika L. Johnson and set to open online September 9, 2020.

The Social Justice Initiative presents “Belonging: Power, Place, and (Im)Possibilities”, a powerful but nuanced exhibition by the celebrated Chicago photographer and conceptual artist, Tonika Johnson.

In a series of portraits and interviews, Johnson chronicles the ways in which nine young people have been made to feel they don’t belong in their own city. While Johnson’s portraits of young peoples’ experiences paint a grim picture of hierarchy, surveillance, entitlement and narrow mindedness, it is not a tale of defeat.

Through their own creative agency, young people push back against the politics of racism, exclusion and containment by creating their own “free spaces” and organizations that contest the commons.

In addition to the artwork, the exhibition features a mural by Joe "Cujodah" Nelson, scholarly research and an interactive map encouraging visitors to explore their own experiences with belonging and exclusion.

The exhibition is set to open online on September 9 at 3:00pm.  See HERE for details.

Belonging is the first exhibition to be featured at the Social Justice Initiative’s Chicago Justice Gallery. The gallery is a non-commercial arts space at UIC that supports social justice artists and education through exhibitions and public events. Developed as an extension of the Initiative, CJG’s focus is to serve as a bridge to connect scholarship, activism and the arts.

Tonika Lewis Johnson is a visual artist and photographer from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Her work explores themes related to racial segregation and inequality, while documenting the nuance and richness of the Black urban life and culture.