harolds chicken shack

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Color(ed) Theory: Color, Race, and Space in Chicago’s South Side

Originally trained as an architect, Chicago-based artist Amanda Williams has focused her work on questions of color, race, and space. For her ongoing “Color(ed) Theory“ project, she explores how academic and theoretical definitions of color map across veiled language used in American media and popular culture to describe racially-charged urban spaces. As a way to search for answers, Williams has been painting the exterior of abandoned houses on Chicago’s South Side using a palette of culturally coded, monochromatic colors. These colors are extracted from buildings and products that are frequent fixtures in black urban landscapes nationwide: Newport 100s, Currency Exchange, Flaminʼ Red Hots. The houses shown above, from top to bottom, are painted the color of Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer, a hair cream used to guard against the damaging effects of heat styling; Harold’s Chicken Shack, a chain of fried chicken restaurants located predominantly in Chicago’s South Side; and Ultrasheen, a hair relaxer specifically manufactured for African American consumers. The project is part of a larger initiative that imagines artful ways to construct new narratives about zero-value landscapes and will culminate at the Chicago Architecture Biennial this fall.