The Nichols Tower Artists-in-Residence program was designed with extensive civic engagement with our partners and the larger community in mind. Each selected artist collaborates with area residents to explore social and civic engagement themes, public and community art, activism, urban studies, and urban agriculture. As our programming reflects community requests, our artists in residence also reflect the community’s self-expression. The residency provides three artists per year (two from Chicago and one selected by an international search) with studio space in the Nichols Tower and a platform for public participation. The artist in residence works with the community to develop creative solutions to local issues and build connections between people and the places they live.

Current Artists-in-Residence

A headshot of Homan Square artist-in-residence Shonna Pryor.

Shonna Pryor

Shonna Pryor is a conceptual art maker and art programs producer. Her creative practice is inspired by references to food and its peripheral objects and concepts as a lens through which to engage memory, play, and power politics. Her paintings, installation, and found object materials nourish pathways for generative futurist speculation of the historical past. Pryor is an educator at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with national exhibitions including Chicago, Detroit, and New York, and residencies that include Hyde Park Art Center’s Jackman Goldwasser Artist Residency, Chicago Artists Coalition Hatch Residency, and Chicago Council on Science and Technology. 

A photo of SAIC Homan Square artist-in-residence Johnae Strong.

Johnaé Strong

Johnaé Strong is a writer, filmmaker, and community organizer committed to healing Black girls all over the world through cultural production. Johnaé’s artwork is heavily influenced by her tenure as co-founder and leader of BYP100 in Chicago from 2013-2017. Within this period she organized for justice for Rekia Boyd and Laquan MacDonald while teaching in Chicago Public Schools. Her academic background is in human rights and education for which she has a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Chicago. She now uses art and community building to express the sacred right to the liberation of all Black people through teaching and making. Specifically, through her writing and film skills which she honed as an MFA student at Northwestern University. Johnae’s work centers her identity as a Black woman, mother, and healer to curate spaces of connection, joy, and resilience.

A photo of Homan Square artist-in-residence Jay Simon

Jay Simon

Jay is a Chicago-based photographer and curator specializing in portrait, storytelling, and architecture photography. He is a North Lawndale native, and his most recent project he's working on is called Westside Glory: Chicago’s Westside Architecture & Portrait Storybook. It is devoted to the Westside’s rich architectural heritage, history, and unique culture, and documents the remarkable stories of homeowners and their buildings. Westside Glory explores the second great migration of southerners to the west side of Chicago; highlighting key aspects of homeownership which also provide the context for the architect and developer. This project changes the narrative of the perception of the west side of Chicago through authentic storytelling and the archiving of the west side's rich architectural heritage, people history, and unique culture.