We are informed by community. We work with community.
SAIC has made a long-term commitment to Homan Square. Creating connections with dialogue and participation is the best way we support and express care for our neighbors.
CCA Academy is a high school located in Chicago's North Lawndale community. Since 1978, CCA Academy provides non-traditional students, ages 17-21, a chance to earn a high school diploma and the training needed to seek gainful employment. Since 2019, SAIC at Homan Square has partnered up with CCA to create projects benefiting the students, and the North Lawndale neighborhood at large. SAIC supports CCA students by collaborating with artists and designers in non-hierarchical ways, supporting outreach, project management and building collaborative relationships between faculty, artists, and North Lawndale residents.
The first collaboration between SAIC and CCA was "PermaPark Food Forest," a CCA student-designed "food forest" and urban farm that addresses North Lawndale's lack of access to fresh food. It allows students to explore practical green-workforce skills and use hands-on learning to brainstorm solutions and address the problems of living in a food desert. The following artists have all worked in PermaPark on shorter small-scale projects: Odile Compagnon, Howard Peller, Pete Poli, Heather Haskins, Eric Widitz, and The Bittertang Farm. More info on PermaPark can be found here.
In 2019, SAIC (artists Bo Rodda and Eric Hotchkiss) worked with CCA to create the “I AM” Speaker through a series of workshops that culminated in a public art installation and used science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) concepts as the core of its creation. The installation is a solar-powered speaker camouflaged as limestone rock in the park, which plays recordings captured by students from CCA who respond to the prompt, “I am…"
In summer 2021, the institutions partnered up with the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Danish Arts Foundation to create the “Soil Lab Project,” built in collaboration with locals on a vacant lot on 1310 S. Pulaski Avenue. Soil Lab is an outdoor kiln and ceramics workshop that aims to foster community-making by activating the lab with workshops related to crafts, producing, and designing.
SAIC at Homan Square looks forward to continuing the partnership with CCA Academy in the future.
Mothers Healing Circle
The Mothers Healing Circle (MHC) was founded in January 2020 by Sonja Henderson. MHC was started to help heal Lawndale mothers' traumatic and violent loss of their children. The Mothers Healing Circle provides a safe in-person and virtual space for gathering, sisterhood, community, understanding, and listening. It is a collective space that is the first step in healing the family, community, and nation. The Mothers Healing Circle provides comfort, community, and woman-centered, art-based healing workshops.
“We Are Made From Stars”: A Lawndale Flying Quilt Memorial
Women have been gathering together for centuries to tell stories, commune, and heal while sewing. The act of sewing, stitching, and “mending” is not only a meaningful social activity but also a meditative and rejuvenating process. MHC collects stories through journaling, singing, photographs, and poetry. These memories become the imagery then collaged into quilts through mixed-media and applique techniques giving voice to Lawndale mothers who have lost their children to violence.
Through storytelling and the quilt-making process, MHC mothers rebuild and celebrate a history masked by disinvestment, inequity, mass incarceration, and violence. "We Are Made From Stars" seeks to restore a forgotten or erased past while honoring present voices. MHC and partner SAIC at Homan Square proudly fly the quilt flags at Lawndale’s historic Sunken Garden as the first monument dedicated to mothers and their children.
WALK-H & Lawndale Civic Design
Lawndale Civic Design consists of spring and summer courses and paid internships for North Lawndale high schoolers, which engage students in community-based art and use youth-led art and design in neighborhood spaces.
SAIC’s WALK-H program (2021 and 2022) exemplifies how youth working in the Lawndale Civic Design course can improve public spaces. WALK-H was a two-year collaboration with SAIC at Homan Square, North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council’s Transportation Committee, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and North Lawndale high school students who researched and designed streetscape interventions for the Kedzie-Homan intersection.
Streetscape improvements included repaving the street by the Chicago Department of Transportation, an asphalt mural, and self-portraits by the students on a vacant lot facing the intersection. Sidewalk paintings done by community members used two motifs from nature: butterflies, representing the transition to safety, and koi fish, which speak to the spread of Asian carp from the American South to Chicago as a metaphor for Lawndale’s connection to the histories of the Great Migration and an examination of environmental justice and “invasive” species.
Nichols Tower Partners
Foundation for Homan Square
The Nichols Tower at Homan Square has been renovated and repurposed as a platform for collaboration between local and citywide organizations in complementary spheres of arts education, workforce development, economic enterprise, and community revitalization. Collaborations with North Lawndale, Nichols Tower Partners and Homan Campus Partners are animated by an agenda of equity, where all people have the ability and right to earn an income and care for their families, experience the arts, grow as individuals, and feel hopeful about the future. The Nichols Tower will serve as a beacon of opportunity on the West Side of Chicago.