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SKIN + MASKS would have been an ambitious undertaking for almost any curator. The group exhibition at Kavi Gupta is rooted in a seminal philosophical text by author Frantz Fanon and features works by more than 20 contemporary Black artists from around the world. Incredibly, the show is Grammy-nominated rapper Vic Mensa’s first foray into the realm of visual arts curation.
What’s not new for Mensa, however, is the philanthropic side of the endeavor. His nonprofit SaveMoneySaveLife (SMSL) has been active for years, serving the Chicago community in a variety of ways. Perhaps its most high-profile initiative was an anti-bait truck that gave away 15,000 pairs of shoes in response to the Chicago Police Department’s efforts to entrap kids with a bait truck full of gym shoes. SMSL has also organized giveaways of food and PPE during the pandemic and created a program based on Mensa’s time in Palestine that instructs community members on how to use everyday items to perform emergency medical care on victims of gun violence.
“We’ve always been an amorphous entity that shape-shifts to meet the needs of the people,” Mensa says.
SMSL’s next step is to turn its philanthropic eye towards Africa—specifically Ghana, where Mensa’s family is from.
“This summer, we’re doing an all expenses paid experiential trip for a group of Chicago teenagers to go spend two weeks in Accra, Ghana,” says Mensa. “Kids growing up in inner city environments can be limited by the scope of their vision. That’s the intention behind taking these children to Ghana. You can only know as much as you can see.”
SKIN + MASKS is integral to an even more substantial initiative Mensa has planned in Ghana: the creation of an arts program for aspiring Ghanaian artists.
We are proud to announce that Kavi Gupta will donate all proceeds from the exhibition to SaveMoneySaveLife.
“Vic Mensa’s commitment to championing diverse and underrepresented voices strongly aligns with our ethos as a gallery,” says gallery founder and principal Kavi Gupta. “Vic has brought together an incredible group of emerging and established artists whose work fosters critical conversations about art, ideas, and the struggles that unify us.”
For more information, visit kavigupta.com.