The Gift Project Chicago Documentation

Hello Friends!

The Gift Project Chicago Documentation is now ready for your viewing pleasure!  Please go to the Project Archive Gallery tab on the top left corner of this website to access photos of the Rockefeller installation and a sample from the Gift Photography Archive .

You can also view videos of:

The Gift Project Chicago Rockefeller Memorial Chapel Installation

The Gift Project Panel Discussion

The Gift Project Chicago CSRPC Interviews

Please go to the Credits page for a list of contributors to this project.

Thank you for your interest in The Gift Project Chicago and please visit to find out about other art facilitation projects.

Your friend in art,

Samantha Hill

Thank You for Enjoying The Gift Project Chicago Panel Discussion! Stay Tuned for Event Documentation.

Hello Friends!  Thank you for joining us for The Gift Project Chicago Panel Discussion.  It was a wonderful experience talking with you!  The Rockefeller installation and the panel discussion were documented for prosperity, so if you missed either of our events stay tuned for the documentation videos which will be posted on this site.

Here is another Story Behind the Image post for you to enjoy while you wait for the videos.  Enjoy! :)

Samantha Hill

Last Days

A Sunday morning ritual was to go to the Maxwell Street market to experience the sights, sounds, food,  and especially,  the antics and interplay of the patrons, performers, peddlers, pass-byers, propriertors, panhandlers, parishioners and permanent inhabitants of that neighborhood. In the 1980s many of the buildings and structures west of Halsted Avenue had been torn down creating a snaggletooth look on any street and usually a clear view of the downtown area at ground level. When I came around the corner and saw the two cars parked in opposite directions one packed to the gills with “stuff” and the other providing a foreground for the pastor and his flock leaving the storefront church all I could think of was that both parties were preparing for the “Last Days”. I took the shot. When I developed the photograph I saw the juxtaposition of the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) and the sign “New Mt Zion” and I thought how prophetic.

At that time we did not know that those actually were the “Last Days” for a truly unique open air market (that had been ‘happening’ for over a hundred and fifty years!) The Maxwell Street market was closed in the 1990s and University Village was built on the site.

Patric McCoy

Thank You for joining us in viewing The Gift. Let’s talk about it!

Thank you for joining The Gift Project Chicago at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel to view The Gift from Patric McCoy to Samantha Hill featuring Chris Gilmore ‘aka’ FluiD.  I hope you had a wonderful experience in the installation.  Now it is time to fulfill the Patric’s last instruction:

To have a discussion about the photos and the 80’s.

The Gift Project Chicago next event will be to have a panel discussion about Patric’s photography during the 1980’s.  Meet our panelists:

Samantha Hill – CSRPC Artist-in-Residence

Patric McCoy- The Gift Project Chicago Photographer, Alumnus, University of Chicago

Kym Pinder – Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Leslie Wilson – PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, University of Chicago

Rebecca Zorach – Associate Professor, Department of Art History, University of Chicago

Please join us to talk about The Gift photography in relation to the 1980’s on:

 The Gift Project Chicago Panel Discussion

Tuseday, May 10th at 6:30

University of Chicago

Rosenwald Building, room 405

1101 E. 58th Street

This event is free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.

Event is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and co-sponsored by the Department of Art History at University of Chicago

Preparation for The Gift

Hello Friends!  The Gift from Patric McCoy to Samantha Hill featuring Christophe Gilmore ‘aka’ FluiD is one day away!  I am finalizing preparations for the event and I am very excited to share The Gift with you!

Join The Gift Project Chicago on May 7th @ 8pm at:

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

5850 South Woodlawn

Chicago, Illinois 60637

Please subcribe to this blog to find out about more The Gift Project Chicago events coming in the next few days and I hope to see you at there! :)

–  Samantha Hill

The Story Behind the Image: Smokin’ at the crossroads

“Eddie Murphy” (a.k.a.  “Merch” because he had sticky fingers) was an insistent requester for a photograph every time he saw me.  He had figured out without me telling him that I would always say yes (I had made a commitment to myself in that year that if anyone asked me for a photograph I would take it) plus since I had started to develop the Black and White photos myself and always carried copies with me he knew that I would give him a photo from the previous time that we had run into each other.

Back then I commuted to work from the South Shore neighborhood to the Loop. “Eddie Murphy” lived somewhere in  the “Low End”, an area I had to go through everyday. So he would call out to me when he saw me riding along south Michigan and Indiana avenues or in the Downtown area. For those that don’t remember, the Loop and the Near North Side in the 1980s were hang out spots for young Black men trying to momentarily escape the pressures of the gang culture of that time. On the day of this photo he caught me in the South Loop and said he wanted to be photographed on the portico (my word – his word “steps”) of the Field Museum with the Chicago Skyline in the background.

We walked over to the museum and took the shots. On the way back along Columbus Drive in Grant Park he stopped to light a cigarette. I saw that the lane markings behind him put him in the center of the crossroads and I quickly took the shot. I had figured out that he was at the “crossroads” in his life.  The tone, manner of speech and the poses that he assumed when he caught me in the “Low End” was different from when he caught me in the Loop.

– Patric McCoy

Behind the Music: Christophe Gilmore

When I began to conceptualize the installation for The Gift Project Chicago, I had a live jazz band in mind for the music.  I did not want a recorded soundtrack for the installation.  It was fate (I believe) which brought Christophe Gilmore ‘aka’ FluiD into The Gift Project Chicago.

I attended a party one week after I received my residency award letter from CSRPC.  I was sharing with the group Patric’s concept for The Gift as well as my concept for the project installation and Christophe said, “This project sounds interesting.  I would like to be a part of it!” 

He started to share with me different music concepts for the installation and I thought, “Christophe would be better than a band.  He can create an amazing jazz arkestra with his system!”

Christophe will be performing a jazz composition live in a creative response to the installation.  He will be mixing from the Pulpit of the Chapel in full view between two of the projection installations.  FluiD is really something to see in performance, so I’m looking forward to the concert!  :)

Join us at Rockefeller on May 7th @ 8pm for a night to remember!

The Importance of Location: Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel is more than a beautiful place for spiritual enrichment.  It is also a venue for events that are open to the community for cultural enrichment.  Rockefeller Chapel also hosts interesting art exhibits, concerts and performances which make wonderful use of the space.   I will be projecting Patric’s photos in four sizes from 4’ x 6’ up to 12’ x 20’ in the space.  The glorious architecture of the Chapel will serve as a ‘frame’ for the large photo projections.

It is my hope that the visitors of The Gift Project Chicago will freely walk through the space to discover the different images.  It will be impossible to see them all, so I hope you will share your favorite image discoveries with the other guests at the reception! :)

Please click on this link to see more images of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Will the Real CSRPC Artist-in-Residence Please Stand Up? The Artwork of Samantha Hill

Hello Friends!  So . . . the Internet is an interesting place.  A simple Google search will turn up many misconceptions and mistaken identities.  ‘Samantha Hill’ is a common name and there is another popular artist on the Internet that has the same name as me.  She is a young lady from Johannesburg and she makes ‘blood videos’.  If you have Google searched ‘Samantha Hill art’ the ‘blood video’ link popped up on the top of the list.

I have received a few inquiries about the ‘blood videos’, so I decided to give you a short  synopsis of my ‘Greatest Hits’ on this blog so you can learn more about my work.  I promise I will put my own website up after I’m finish with The Gift Project Chicago events. :)

Continue reading

The Story Behind the Image: Mocking Royalty

This was at one of the “Jazz in the Alley” events (location – vacant lot at 31st and Prairie) in the mid 1980s.  I recall “Jazz in the Alley” was the third Saturday (weekend?) in August of each year commemorating the old “Alley” happenings.)

[The original ‘Alley’ happened every Sunday in the alley between St. Lawrence and Champlain Avenues and 49th and 50th Streets on the south side of Chicago. It went from about noon – when the three liquor stores on the corner opened up – until sundown. People of all stripes would meet in that alley and party like there was no tomorrow! I recall seeing people set up barbecue pits and hawking  pig ear sandwiches in the vacant lot across from the liquor stores. This went on for years (I have heard decades) until ~1980 when Mayor Jane Byrne sent the police in to shut down the ‘Alley’ – an act that many southsiders remembered when it came time to vote Mayor Byrne out and bring “Harold” in.]

When I frequented the original ‘Alley’ back in the 70s, I did not have a camera and,  anyway, I would have been too intimidated to try to record those goings on!  But in the mid 80s I had a camera and the commemorative “Jazz in the Alley” events were a bit tamer with the focus on high quality musical performances. The central character in this shot must have been one of the elite denizens of the original ‘Alley’ with his home-made crown clutching his brown paper bag of liquid refreshment (I don’t recall any close by liquor stores on 31st Street.) He had been parading in front of the stage and I kept moving around trying to get a good shot. When the appropriate situation occurred I was so intent on getting the crown, I didn’t notice that the little girl was also in the frame. It was a great surprise when I was developing the black and white image that I saw her mocking the “crowned one”. I had to chuckle to myself and say “Baby you don’t know what you missed!”

– Patric McCoy