Special Programming: 'Billiken' returns for limited run, August 9-12, 2023

Aug 9, 2023

Billiken by Shkunna Stewart and Wills Glasspiegel

Billiken, the much-beloved Bud Billiken-themed projection that premiered as part of ART on THE MART's summer 2022 programming, will return for a limited engagement leading up to the 94th annual Bud Billiken Parade, the largest and longest-running African American parade in the United States spearheaded by the Chicago Defender newspaper in 1929. The work, created by Wills Glasspiegel and Shkunna Stewart, will be on view from Wednesday August 9 until Saturday August 12 at 9pm CT.

Award-winning Chicago filmmaker Wills Glasspiegel, the artist behind ART on THE MART’s 2021 Footnotes projection that won Time Out Chicago’s Best in The City Award for the category of public artwork, partnered with youth dance group leader Shkunna Stewart to direct this large-scale work composed of video footage and animated imagery that celebrates the talented youth dance groups and marching bands that participate and compete in the annual parade. Shkunna Stewart, co-director of Billiken, is the fourth generation of her family to lead dancers at the parade, having won broad acclaim after taking first place in the parade’s dance competition on several occasions with her dance group Bringing Out Talent, featured in the projection alongside over 100 local dancers including the South Shore Drill Team.

Billiken was co-produced by the Chicago Defender Charities. Additional collaborators for Billiken include DJ RP Boo, a legendary trailblazer in Chicago‚Äôs house music and footwork dance scenes. RP Boo was among the first DJs to spin live at Bud Billiken in the ‚Äė90s, helping craft a musical tradition that continues at the parade today. RP Boo has assembled a house music soundtrack to accompany Billiken, punctuated with samples from Rich Township Marching Machine, a youth marching band from Rich Township High School in the south suburbs. Also involved in the project is Brandon K. Calhoun, reprising his role as animator after his and Glasspiegel‚Äôs ART on THE MART hit Footnotes.