Audio Guide for Chicago Avant-Garde

Welcome to the audio guide for Chicago Avant-Garde, on view at the Newberry Library from September 10 – December 30, 2021. Scroll down to get started, or use the menu in the upper-right of the screen to jump to a specific section.

Mapping Connections

This exhibit tells the stories of five women who helped transform Chicago into a center of artistic innovation.

They established schools and galleries, organized salons, performances and poetry competitions that provided valuable artistic opportunities for both African Americans and women.

Music: ‘La Guiablesse’ by William Grant Still

Modernism in the Midwest

Paris and New York are often seen as hotbeds of artistic modernism.

But there was also a rich network of avant-garde artists in Chicago.

Together they created a unique midwestern modernism.

Five Women Ahead of Their Time

Select an artist to learn about the five boundary-pushing women at the center of Chicago Avant-Garde.


Art Curator

Katherine Dunham


Gertrude Abercrombie


Gwendolyn Brooks




This audio guide was produced by graduate students from the University of Chicago: Fiona Maxwell, Sanjukta Poddar, Cecilia Ringo, Lindsay Apperson, Luiza Osorio G. Silva, & Richard S. Young. Thank you to The Studs Terkel Radio Archive, The Red Clay Dance Company, and The South Side Community Arts Center for interviews and audio material.