July 15, 2019

Chicago welcomes Semicolon, a new bookstore connecting the worlds of art and books


Exciting news from Chicago: a new bookstore has opened, reports Chicago Magazine. And while the opening of an independent bookstore is always cause for celebration, Semicolon is giving us even more reasons to smile: the only bookstore owned by a black woman in Chicago, it will also serve as a community space and art gallery specializing in the city’s street art scene. 

DL Mullen opened Semicolon in West Town, and brings her background in both writing (she has a Ph.D. in literary theory) and art curation to the store’s unique concept. The walls are decorated with art—the north wall in particular features a mural from street artist Ahman Lee, where Frida Khalo and Jean-Michel Basquiat are depicted. The books are displayed unconventionally compared to your traditional bookstore: “floor-to-ceiling shelves with their covers facing out, not unlike a gallery. Keeping with Semicolon’s curatorial spirit, Mullen hand-picked all 400 titles, grouping them by association rather than genre,” describes Taylor Moore for Chicago mag.

Downstairs, Mullen has created a rotating gallery space, which will host artwork from a different featured artist every month. It will also serve as an area for author and artist talks. 

When it comes to combining art and books, Mullen wants to help people make the connection. She told Chicago mag, “Explaining art is really [key] to how people understand it and connect to it. It became important to me to bridge art and words.”

And she wants to help people create their own art, as well. Semicolon will provide services for self-publishing authors who need to print their manuscripts. With the help of the in-house Espresso Book Machine, authors can print up to 450 pages of their manuscript within one minute. 

Semicolon—which Mullen chose as the store’s name because “it represents the point in a sentence where it could stop, but the author decides to proceed,”—is set to bridge the world of art and literature and Mullen is leading the way. “It means everything to me. To be able to create something that I love, as a black woman, that other black women and people can love just as much is a huge deal.”

Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.