jireh l. drake

Hope and joy are crucial in a world that’s trying to kill/condition Black folks into survival.



Neighborhood: Kenwood & Bronzeville
Racial Justice Issue: Systemic Racism Impacts

Hope and joy are crucial in a world that’s trying to kill/condition Black folks into survival. My project subverts this; hindering the speed at which we‘re losing parts of ourselves in order to survive. Black Joy is useful for movement sustainment but it’s fundamental to being our whole self.


jireh l. drake (they // them) is a Chicago-based unapologetic queer, black, trans non-binary baddie & abolitionist organizer. they are a mixed media drawing and sculpting artist & writer. ​they use art to tenderly unearth trauma & imagine new worlds where we strive to put things as right as possible to heal.


unknown reverences. February 2016. Dirt & Wood. 17x8x8 in. (Detail).
This is a genderless mud sculpture and a prototype that honors a black child, who was murdered by the state, and how energy/blackness is never destroyed rather it is constantly transforming.

It will be installed in a public space as its final resting place. The next phase is to work alongside black families who have experienced a loss to ensure that the work is rooted in meaningful collaborative healing processes.

reconfigured anxious (Series): the burden (pictured), housing anxiety (not pictured), productivity (not pictured). 01/2017. Graphite. 14x11 in.
This series explores how anxiety alters, hinders and lives within my black, trans, neurodivergent, disabled body. the burden depicts a headless torso and gangly arms grasping decaying watermelons. housing anxiety depicts the artist’s headless frail torso with an unusual organ exiting their body to examine itself. productivity depicts the artist splitting into and out of themself, while making direct eye contact with the viewer and themself. Sound waves are drawn above their head.

RJ27 (Series). Screenprinted May 2017. Installed January 2018. Varying Sizes.
RJ27 answers Mariame Kaba’s call to “(create) abolitionist messages that penetrate the public consciousness to distort the idea that cops=safety.” These screenprinted restorative justice "advertisements" were installed on the Chicago Transit Authority. Thus injecting abolitionist-seeded, healing centered questions/prompts into train passengers’ mundane commutes.

Shown is a close up of one poster: “HEAL” is overlaid with these questions, “What has been the hardest part?” “If you had to do it over, what would you do differently?” “What’s needed to make things right?” etc. At the bottom a brief definition of Restorative justice is included: collectively identifying & addressing the harm, needs & obligations in order to heal & put things as right as possible.


Threewalls is always finding new ways to share our artist’s unique voices through exhibits, talks, and gatherings. We would like you to be the first to know about these opportunities.