CHICAGO—The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) opened its first permanent classroom outside of its downtown campus where it will offer arts education to the residents of North Lawndale on Chicago’s west side. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined SAIC to cut the ribbon at Nichols Tower, where SAIC announced it will launch an artist residency and three semester-long workshops. The original Sears, Roebuck and Co. tower was renovated as part of a revitalization of the neighborhood’s Homan Square area.
"As the oldest art and design college in the city, SAIC has a long history of civic engagement and connecting our students, faculty, staff, and alumni to the diverse communities in and around Chicago,” says Walter Massey, president of SAIC. “We work as cultural consultants throughout Chicago, sharing our art in public galleries and closely collaborating with local citizens and organizations to positively impact communities through art and design education and projects."
In Nichols Tower, SAIC will deliver core education in the visual arts, expose the community to contemporary artists and help residents build their technical skills in design and technology. SAIC aims to provide residents with new ways of engaging with the arts and developing artistic skill sets that can be applied to any job field that incorporates innovation, versatility, investigation, entrepreneurship and critical thinking.
SAIC will offer three workshops in 2016:
- “Management Studio” is an art-in-culture-based management project geared toward 18–24-year-olds to help develop art management skillsets and facilitate discussion around cultural leadership, philanthropy and how the arts and nonprofit system works in Chicago.
- Inside Innovative Minds is an eight-week-long after-school program for 10–15 students from North Lawndale’s DRW College Prep. Through this course, students will be introduced to research strategies as well as learn what it looks like to be a creative professional in Chicago.
- “That Reminds Me of a Time” is geared toward an intergenerational group, ages 12 and up, and asks participants to think about what it means to tell a story, how a story can be told and what it means to share experiences with others through writing, live presentation and digital archiving.
SAIC’s first Artist-in-Residence in Nichols Tower is Scheherazade Tillet, who will begin her program in December. Tillet is an alum of SAIC’s Art Therapy program and the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, a Chicago nonprofit that uses art to educate and empower victims of domestic violence. Tillet will be followed by SAIC alum and current SAIC Fashion Department faculty member Cheryl Pope, who is actively focused on issues of power, inequality, race, gender and segregation in Chicago, frequently conducting research within those spaces and engaging in several collaborations with Chicago youth through the intersection of poetry and the visual arts.
Nichols Tower will also be home to seven other community and citywide organizations, including Free Spirit Media; Lawndale Business Renaissance Association; Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago; North Lawndale Employment Network; The Foundation for Homan Square; Turning the Page and UCAN.
For 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers, and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program ranked number two by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, and LeRoy Neiman.
About Nichols Tower
Nichols Tower is the culmination of a decades-long revitalization of the neighborhood by the Foundation for Homan Square. The Homan Square Campus includes the Homan Square Community Center, Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center, YMCA Child Development Center, Holy Family School and nearly 400 hundred units of affordable housing. It is touted as a national model for community development, sustainable design and historic preservation. Nichols Tower was renamed after John D. and Alexandra C. Nichols, longtime benefactors of Homan Square and friends of Charles H. Shaw, the real estate developer who began the redevelopment process. After Shaw’s untimely passing in 2006, John Nichols actively intervened to ensure Shaw’s legacy and the completion of Homan Square redevelopment projects.
About the Foundation for Homan Square
The Foundation for Homan Square is a non-profit organization formed in 1995 to oversee the Homan Square redevelopment plan. The Foundation serves as an umbrella organization managing initiatives and properties on the Homan Campus, including the Homan Square Community Center, the Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center, and the Nichols Tower.