In 1919, at a segregated beach on the south side of Chicago, 17-year-old Eugene Williams was stoned to death after floating across the color line in Lake Michigan. His drowned body echoes the millions of Black bodies thrown overboard during the middle passage–a reminder that our relationship with water continues to be shaped by racial violence and greed.
Building on the legend of an underwater paradise prevalent throughout the African diaspora, Eugene’s Cove by Lishan AZ imagines an underwater world where victims of racial and colonial violence sank and became something more. Fugitive slaves who escaped by water and victims of police brutality embrace across time. They arrive at Black beaches today to find spaces of joy and affection.
The images feature a community of Chicagoans submerged just blocks away from the beach where Eugene took his last breath. The portraits flow through scenes of majesty, surrender, and play to celebrate the ways we reclaim water as a source of freedom.
On View: December 13, 2023 - March 3 2024