Community / In The Classroom

Artist Makeba Kedem-Dubose Makes ‘The Best of Blue’ During 8-Year Battle With Depression

Even amidst seemingly insurmountable challenges, you have the power to achieve, grow and ultimately, triumph.

At least that’s according to Chicago native and artist Makeba Kedem-Dubose. She did exactly that, she says, when she chronicled her eight-year journey through depression and created, “The Best of Blue: A Work in Progress.” The piece debuted this month on the Adler University Chicago Campus, where Kedem-Dubose shed light on the darkest time in her life, discussing her work with – among other reception attendees – students from a simultaneous class in the university’s art therapy program.

“The fact that I’m standing up here smiling and telling you this story means the world to me because, like I said, I literally cried for eight years,” she said.

Kedem-Dubose described her piece as “my triumph” after a series of losses that included the deaths of loved ones, a painstaking divorce, and a lost custody battle. The winding, mosaic-like work comprises an entire wall of the long fifteenth-floor hallway, which is now marked by the art’s rich jewel tones. Organic in nature, each of its adorned squares reflects a different step in Kedem-Dubose’s eight-year fight with what she described as an often debilitating depression.

“You’ll notice that here are little plastic pins and copper tacks … paperclips, grommets, holding it all together,” she said, while pacing alongside her artwork, which ebbs and flows in all directions. “I wanted all of that to be present because it’s part of the story. I was kind of all over the place; held together with paperclips and tacks.”

Her use of the color purple manifested from the blend of red and blue – red, signifying the reconnection to her “inner warrior spirit” and blue, her deep sadness.

That rich violet tone is also a nod to The Crown Chakra, one of seven centers of body energy recognized by those who observe tantric traditions. Chakra theory considers it the color of spirituality and a reflection of a perfect balance of red and blue – one that instills both strength and dignity.

“I didn’t want to use the color blue too much because I was trying to get past that, right?” Kedem-Dubose said. “I have gotten past that, at this point … but all of these ideas made purple the ‘best of blue’ for me.”

Kedem-Dubose is the current creative director and curator for the Chicago Global Health Alliance, a position she has held since 2014. Her work is included in both private and public collections worldwide.