In 2014, she met urologist Dr. Adam Murphy, cofounder of the Chicago Global Health Alliance, and began working with CGHA, first as curator of the non-profit's Annual Art for Global Health Fundraiser, then as creative director. She has been coordinating art auctions that help fund the organization’s work in the United States and Liberia ever since. She went with Dr. Murphy to call on a gallery owner she knew well, only to find her old friend in precarious health. Despite her own health problems, and being newly divorced, Kedem-DuBose began helping her friend by offering transportation, shopping, cooking and cleaning, and by consolidating the art in the gallery and selling it off.
It was at this point—with practically no money and deep in depression—that Kedem-DuBose discovered what would become the first step on her journey back. She found a cache of old artist catalogs in the gallery files and felt inspired to make art out of the paper. She deconstructed the catalogs, dyed the paper pages in vats, drew on them, painted on them, put them together with pins, staples, grommets—the only things she had. The first pages were dark blue—reflections of her own “blues” as she poured all of her depression into the work over several years.
In November 2017, the complete work, called “The Best of Blue: A Work in Progress” was displayed at Adler University’s Chicago campus. The mosaic of pages snake up and down along the wall, like the emotional ups and downs of the previous eight years.
“Best of Blue was very therapeutic for me,” she says. “I was working out a lot of that stuff through art—even though I still have challenges. Some of the paintings I started back then, I’m just going back to now. My best work comes out of my depression. I’ve never been one to shy away from any subject. I’m as comfortable talking to a White person about race as a Black person. I’m the same way with my work. Sometimes I can’t restrain myself, but my intentions are always good—not just for me or for Black people, but for everyone.”
To learn more about Makeba Kedem-DuBose, start with her Facebook page.
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I'm Marcia Santore, an artist and a writer. This blog is all about artists and their stories. See my artwork at