Skip to content

Charles White: A Little Higher 

November 10, 2023–February 25, 2024

Vance Waddell, Mayerson, and Kreines Galleries (Galleries 125, 124, and 123)
Free Admission
Friends of American Painting, Sculpture, and Drawings
Press Release


Charles White (1918–1979) is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential African American artists of the twentieth century. The exhibition Charles White: A Little Higher explores the work of the Chicago-born artist and educator. Over the course of a 40-year career, White created powerful, evocative interpretations of the Black experience with a confidence and technical skill that defined his mastery as a draftsman, printmaker, and painter.

Although his art focused nearly exclusively on African American subjects, White speaks to viewers from all walks of life. He stated, “I like to think that my work has a universality to it. I deal with love, hope, courage, freedom, and dignity—the full gamut of the human experience.”

The exhibition features nearly 50 of White’s drawings, prints, and paintings selected from the Primas Family Collection, one of the nation’s premiere collections of work by Black artists. The forceful images of White’s early career merge into the breathtaking, emotive works for which he is best known, like the two large charcoal drawings in the exhibition from his “J’Accuse” series. Another notable feature of the exhibition, on public display for the first time, is a group of twelve oil-wash illustrations commissioned by the Johnson Publishing Company (which also produced Ebony) for the landmark book The Shaping of Black America (published in 1975) by noted author and Ebony editor Lerone Bennett, Jr.

Expressing his lifelong commitment to social justice and equality, White’s stirring art provides lessons in tolerance and compassion that resonate today.

Charles White: A Little Higher is made possible by the Primas Family Collection.


Charles White art x Pones

Local dance collective Pones presents Quite Naturally in conversation with, and in homage to the work of Charles White and the exhibition A Little Higher—now on view through February 25. Original choreography by Teisha Murray in conjunction with dancers Camille Jones, Ja’Nay Brown, and Ashley O. Morton.

Pones provides artistic opportunities for community growth by creating engaging new ways for audiences to experience dance and performance art.


Featured Media

"Charles White: A Little Higher Large Print Labels" in black & white with a distressed, spotty font design Exhibition Content

Download complete Charles White: A Little Higher large print labels, optimized for screen reader.


Share your feedback about the exhibition.

Members Opening

Thursday, November 9, 2023, 5–7 p.m.


Lecture—Charles White Legacy

Thursday, November 9, 2023, 7–8 p.m.


Family Storytime and Gallery Walk: Sharing is Caring

Saturday, January 6, 2024, 11 a.m.–Noon


Choose Your Own Gallery Adventure: Travel Through Time

Saturday, January 13, 2024, 1–2 p.m.


Art After Dark

Friday, Januaury 26, 2024, 5–9 p.m.


See the Story Book Club: Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Falade

Saturday, January 27, 2024, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.


Exhibition support provided by