IN A LOVE SUPREME NORMAN TEAGUE REIMAGINES THE FUTURE OF DESIGN FROM A BLACK AND BROWN PERSPECTIVE

Pigment International
3 min readJan 29, 2024

By P. Andrews-Keenan

Read this week’s Pigment Newsletter here.

Norman Teague’s solo exhibition A Love Supreme opened at the Elmhurst Art Center on January 19th to a packed house. The designer and educator’s homage to the legendary jazz musician John Coltrane also included an adjoining group exhibition in the Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House featuring over 30 Chicago-based BIPOC artists titled A Love Supreme: McCormick House Reimagined. For Teague this exhibit mirrored his own journey and design influences as a life-long Chicagoan.

NOrman Teague’s A Love Supreme

Teague’s solo exhibition melds his love of music and architecture. Each of the four galleries, displaying his colorful, playful designs, most in wood, were matched with Coltrane’s music in a thematic progression. Instruments were reimagined as object de ’arts: ceramic horns on peg boards, inside wood sculptures incorporated within furniture; a piano reimagined and turned into a cabinet; shelves that scale the wall rather than sitting square. A stack of stools projects shadows that resemble a totem. It all redirects the mind to think in different ways about everyday objects like chairs and stools.

Teague studied the masters– van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham and thinks that these Chicago legends would have loved to see this progression. Indeed, many of his pieces are both beautiful and useful, sharing DNA with the best of mid-century design. Now an instructor himself, the architect is re-writing the historical narrative as one where we see Black and Brown designers as the future of American design.

The McCormick House Reimagined is a collaboration with 35 artists producing 47 objects, categorized as Music, Listening Lounge, Spirituality, Body and Movement. Rose Camaro, Charles Hummel Curatorial Fellow at The Chipstone Foundation, co-curated this 21st Century conceptualization of the iconic van der Rohe designed single family home built in 1952. It came together through Teague sending a few texts and emails asking his Chicago art community to join him. And they did not disappoint. Krista Franklin, Shani Crowe, Brandon Breaux, Paul Branton, Juan de La Mora, Tony Smith, Bryana Bibbs, Stephen Flemister the list goes on and on. Of the immense talent assembled Teague says, “I think it’s the combination of history and talent that make’s Chicago’s artistic community what it is, no matter if we’re talking art or music. ” He references the South Side Community Art Center (SSAC) as one of the artistic touchpoints in the city. “The fact that they said yes to this project meant a lot to me, he shares.

Personally, places like the Music Box Theater were instrumental in Teague’s development. “For someone who had only been exposed to my neighborhood, the place was a revelation,” he says. Further he identified with Coltrane and both of their struggles to grow out of the person they were to a new level. “Personally, I look at all the things that influenced my life — having two kids, drugs, my time in the National Guard, as part of my spiritual search.” He goes on to say that while it wasn’t easy, having family and the Black church to depend upon kept him going. Indeed, his mom and kids attended the opening.

Teague concludes that Coltrane’s Love Supreme offered us dazzling musical moments and its certain that A Love Supreme, the exhibition, is offering us an opportunity to witness the future of design as interpreted by these Black and Brown creators. See it now through April 20th at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

Exhibiting Artists: Oluwaseyi Adeleke, Germane Barnes, Cain Baum, Bryana Bibbs, Paul Branton, Steve Bravo, Brandon Breaux, Roger Carter, Funlola Coker, Summer Coleman, Shani Crowe, Max Davis, Juan de la Mora, Julius C. Dorsey, Brian K. Ellison, Stephen Flemister, Krista Franklin, Toni L. Griffin, Andres L. Hernandez, Roland Knowlden, Marvell Lahens, Roberto Lugo, Cedric Mitchell, Obiora Nwazota, Lola Ogbara, Rosemary Ollison, Daniel Overbey, Suchi Reddy, Tony Smith, Edra Soto, Jomo Tariku, Norman Teague, Raymond A. Thomas, Fo Wilson, and Sadie Woods.

Photos courtesy of Hall +Merrick Photographers

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Pigment International

PIGMENT-Intl ® is a multi-media arts collective redefining global arts, culture, and innovation. www.pigmentintl.com