Is Where It’s At! features a mixture of newer and older works as the artist’s aim is to speak with immediacy to Black people living in this time. The show derives its title from Nina Simone’s Young, Gifted and Black performance of the song at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a song that celebrates the beauty of Black people and youth as the future. Is where it’s at!, is an ode to Black people who continue to enrich the culture of the world, urging us to never forget the power that we possess.
Adeshola Makinde (b. 1990) is a Nigerian-American multidisciplinary artist based in Chicago, Illinois. During his upbringing in the Chicagoland suburbs, Makinde attended predominantly white schools during his younger years that were starkly different from the life he led at home with his immigrant parents from Nigeria. These schools also lacked curriculums that engaged with a great deal of black history and culture. This neglect of Black subject matter led Makinde on a personal journey of Black consciousness, with much of his artwork exploring the feelings of joy that arise on the journey towards true liberation.
Throughout his practice, Makinde often features source material from Johnson Publishing Company publications such as EBONY and JET magazines. Makinde utilizes these images of black life in his work to highlight social justice themes and challenge viewers to question the systems they find themselves in.