Faheem Majeed (American, b. 1976) is a builder—literally and metaphorically. A resident of the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago, Majeed often looks to the material makeup of his neighborhood and surrounding areas as an entry point into larger questions around civic-mindedness, community activism, and institutional critique. As part of his studio practice, the artist transforms materials such as particle board, scrap metal and wood, and discarded signs and billboard remnants, breathing new life into these often overlooked and devalued materials. His broader engagement with the arts also involves arts administration, curation, and community facilitation, all which feed into his larger practice.
Majeed received his BFA from Howard University and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
From 2005-2011, Majeed served as Executive Director and Curator for the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC). In this role he was responsible for managing operations, staff, programs, fundraising, curation, and archives for the SSCAC. During his time with the SSCAC, Majeed curated exhibitions of numerous artists including Elizabeth Catlett, Dr. David Driskell, Charles White, Jonathan Green, and Theaster Gates.
Majeed was selected as the inaugural artist in residence for University of Chicago’s Arts in Public Life Initiative (2012), MANA Contemporary Chicago (2014), and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (2015).
From 2013 – 2015 he served as the associate director and faculty of UIC’s School of Art and Art History. While at UIC he taught classes in museum collections and socially engaged art practices.
Currently, Faheem is a full-time, practicing artist and creates work in his South Shore studio.
I have always been drawn to odd, broken or marginalized things…that translates to objects, places and people. I think I’m drawn to these kinds of things because of a bottomless curiosity…not necessarily to tear things apart to see how they work but to understand connections, motivations, and ultimately outcomes. The curator in me sees the ability to put these things together in a way that is different from their originally intended purpose. I try to refocus the lens and tell a story that was not obvious or perhaps lacked a voice. I synthesize aspects of making, curating, community organizing, performance, and appropriation into my work. By creating an environment leveraging these aspects and engaging culturally specific institutions, community thought leaders, community stakeholders, and other artists I am able to position my role as “artist” in a broader socially engaged context.
On the whole, my art work functions like breadcrumbs in the forest leading my audience back to the people and spaces that I value or that I believe should be valued by others. At times, that path is created through “loving” institutional critique. I find ways to question the validity and efficacy of a space in an attempt to ignite dialogue and action that addresses the underlying issues that may contribute to the perceived devaluation.
My perspective on the work I create and the role I play has evolved over time. In shifting roles from independent working artist to curator to non-profit director to teacher to administrator, I have grown to understand the difference between creating an object and creating a platform. I now view my work well beyond object making. It is an approach much more grounded in considering the impact and developing the object that plays its part in a larger scheme of change.