Norman Teague, installation view of “Objects for Change,” Art Center Highland Park, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.
In this two-part exhibition, designer Norman Teague uses legendary jazz musician John Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme as a personal, cultural, and spiritual touchstone to consider design influences from his lifelong home in Chicago. He explores how the power of bold improvisational jazz and unapologetic Black aesthetics have expanded the minds and inspired creative communities of color. Celebrating BIPOC designers and a variety of cultural influences in Chicago at a time when the country is reckoning with racial inequities in representation across industries and disciplines, A Love Supreme is accompanied by an adjoining intervention in Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House by Chicago-based BIPOC designers.
A solo exhibition in the museum’s main galleries features new works by Teague with African-influenced objects. It culminates in Teague’s version of a large-scale African round house containing multiple organically designed objects that nod to his Midwest influences, such as the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the Wall of Respect, and sculptor Martin Puryear.
In the neighboring McCormick House, Teague asks, “What is your Coltrane story? Who awakened you personally and artistically?” Work in the McCormick House includes furniture, blown glass, and custom leather pieces that transform the house from the picture of upper-class, white suburban living to a space celebrating alternative aesthetics, including acknowledgments of overlooked historical figures from Chicago reimagined through an alternative lens by BIPOC architects, designers, and artists.
In line with his highly collaborative practice, Teague in A Love Supreme uplifts other creatives while expressing joy through design, musical performances, public talks, and other creative expressions by designers and artists. Jazz and jazz-influenced performances throughout the run of the exhibition further underline the influence of avant-garde music on Chicago design.