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Richard Hunt, and his sculpture "Ascension" on the WIU Macomb campus
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Emory Douglas with Jo-Ann Morgan on the set of "Illinois Artist Conversations"
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Photographer Stephen Shames
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"Illinois Artists Conversations" Debuts on UTV

December 4, 2013

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MACOMB, IL -- The original series, "Illinois Artist Conversations," conceived and hosted by Western Illinois University African American Studies and Art Associate Professor Jo-Ann Morgan will debut the week of Dec. 8 on University Television's local cable Channel 3 (Comcast subscribers; Channel 9, MTC subscribers).

The first hour-long show in the series features an interview with Richard Hunt, a Chicago-born artist who is the first African American to have a retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Michael Thompson of University Television serves as producer for "Illinois Artist Conversations."

Air dates include 6:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 8; 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9; 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10; 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11; 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13; 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14; and 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 16. Additional show times can be found at

Throughout the years, Hunt has received Guggenheim, Ford and Tamarind fellowships, awards from the Art Institute of Chicago and Logan, Palmer, and Compana prizes. He was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as one of the first artists to serve on the governing board of the National Endowment for the Arts and he also served on boards of the Smithsonian Institution. In addition to having gallery solo shows of his sculptures almost every year since 1968, Hunt has completed more public sculptures than any other artist in the country. His signature pieces include "Jacob's Ladder" (1977) at the Carter G. Woodson Library in Chicago and "Flight Forms" (2002) for Midway Airport, also in Chicago. In 1997, he created "Ascension," for WIU, which sits between the University Union and Knoblauch Hall.

Hunt's campus visit was funded through an Academic Support Grant from the Performing Arts Society, and grants from the University Theme Committee, the Visiting Lecture Committee, the Office of the Provost and the Office of Student Activities, as well as support from the departments of art and African American studies.

Future "Illinois Artist Conversations" series will feature Emory Douglas and Stephen Shames.

Douglas was politically involved as revolutionary artist and then minister of culture for the Black Panthers from February 1967 until the early 1980s. His and design concepts were seen on the front and back pages of the Black Panther newspaper, reflecting the politics of the Black Panther Party and the concerns of the community. Douglas' work has been displayed at the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, in Sydney Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the African American Art & Cultural Complex in San Francisco, CA, the Richmond Art Center and the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston Texas.

Shames, a New York based photojournalist and humanitarian, is the founder of L.E.A.D Uganda, an educational leadership program that transforms AIDS orphans, former child soldiers, child laborers, and other forgotten children into leaders by giving them education and entrepreneurial skills.

A 2010 Purpose Prize Fellow, Shames is best known for his black and white photography of the Black Panther Party with which he was closely associated from the time of their beginning in 1966 and into the 1970s. Since then he has done several photographic series that document children in poverty in the United States and other countries. His images are in the collections of numerous galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery, the International Center of Photography, the University of California at Berkeley and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

For University Television programming, including "Illinois Artist Conversations," visit, and click "here" in the TV guide section. To obtain the complete UTV listing, change cable provider/location to Comcast or MTC depending on your cable carrier.

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