The Wisconsin State Journal is once again putting the spotlight on the work of UW–Madison’s Faisal Abdu’Allah.
Abdu’Allah, who holds the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art, is an internationally acclaimed artist, professor in the School of Education’s Art Department, and the associate dean of the arts in the School of Education.
The story focuses on Abdu’Allah’s “Prince Hall” series, which sheds light on the Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons, a “centuries-old fraternal organization that has been viewed by many as secretive.” This work is part of Abdu’Allah’s “Dark Matter” exhibition, which runs through April 2 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA).
The organization’s history dates back to 1775 and many prominent Black leaders — including writer Langston Hughes and civil rights activist John Lewis — have connections to Freemasonry.
The story notes that Abdu’Allah, who is British, first heard of Freemasonry while living in the U.K., but “it wasn’t until he moved to Madison that he saw the work of the Prince Hall Masons firsthand.” Around 2014 he became friends with Local Mason Alan Chancellor of Madison’s Capitol City Lodge No. 2, and “the two soon bonded over their passion for community service and the artist became increasingly fascinated by the organization.”
Abdu’Allah’s interest in the organization led him to create his “Prince Hall” series, “a collection of portraits of six Capitol City Lodge members, dressed in full regalia.”
These portraits “are vivid reproductions of photos that have been printed on large tapestries,” notes the story.
Speaking of the series, Abdu’Allah says, “I would hope people see past the form of representations of what we see — these men with aprons and gloves and hats and what we assume the Masons to be and see it more as a chapter in excellence and generosity.”
Read the full Wisconsin State Journal story to learn more.