by Veronica Anne Salinas (MFA 2020)
At SAIC’s fourth annual Day of Service on Friday, March 29, more than 75 student volunteers boarded shuttles that traveled from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue to Chicago’s West Side in the North Lawndale neighborhood at Homan Square, where SAIC operates a classroom space in Nichols Tower. The gray skies did not deter the coordination of numerous projects such as gardening, Homan Square Park improvement, and North Lawndale community enhancement.
At the Homan Square Park project, students and Art and Technology Studies faculty member, Allie n Steve Mullen gathered outside to work diligently on revitalizing the garden and futuristic light structures of the bLUMEN pavilion. The vibrant flowers and greenery of the pansies, violets, and strawberries were striking against the slowly returning landscape at the bLUMEN pavilion. Mullen remarked, “I love being able to connect outside of the classroom and to get a sense of the larger community that holds us together, both at SAIC and in our city. Something different happens when you are on your hands and knees, next to one of your students, pushing dirt into a used soil bag to spread around newly planted flowers. It does a little bit to place our work and critique in perspective.”
On the 12th floor of Nichols Tower, students and staff worked in a large classroom where SAIC typically hosts courses, workshops, and events for the community on painting signs and other neighborhood enhancement projects. Nicole Anthony, a student in Painting and Drawing, worked to develop an expressive design for a beautification project in North Lawndale, “since it’s Crit Week I thought what a great way to contribute, meet people, and show my skill set.”
Taykhoom Biviji (MA 2017) was the community coordinator for the Day of Service this year. Biviji initially was introduced to Homan Square during his time as a graduate student in the Arts Administration and Policy program. He became interested in the process of developing programs and felt the pull to be of service to the Homan Square community.
After the day’s events were done, Biviji said, “I thought the day turned out perfect, all our partners seemed very happy with the projects and some students have volunteered more time to continue working with organizations on current and future projects.”