Public Programs

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) hosts programs for the North Lawndale community in our 12th floor classroom at Nichols Tower in Homan Square. Courses, workshops, and events are offered in a variety of formats and for audiences age nine and up.

Youth Programs at Homan Square

Youth Programs provides a stimulating environment for students to explore their artistic potential with an emphasis on problem-solving. Projects incorporate a variety of materials and methods including drawing, painting, sculpture, and mixed media. In addition to learning to work with different materials, students will learn to use art as a tool to foster self-awareness, to reconcile conflicts, and personal expression. The skills provided help students’ develop as critical thinkers, preparing them to use art as a tool to better understand themselves and the world around them.

Community Care Sessions

Community Care Sessions fosters the mental and emotional healing of black communities by building sustainable and revolutionary ways of loving and supporting each other. It is a program that promotes Black identity but also merges art and creative activities with a specific focus on promoting individual and family wellness goals.

The 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial hosted the Soil Lab project in North Lawndale by artists Eibhlín Ní Chathasaigh, James Albert Martin, Maria Bruun and Anne Dorthe Vester. Support for the project has been granted by The Danish Arts Foundation along with the General Consulate of Denmark in New York and Chicago. Soil Lab was built in collaboration with locals on a vacant lot on 1310 S. Pulaski Avenue. This project aims to further foster community-making by activating the lab with workshops related to crafts, producing and designing.

SAIC at Homan Square played a central part in connecting the artists to key actors in the community, as well as engaging educators Sonja Henderson, Piloto Nieves and Jovonna Jackson to lead workshops at Soil Lab. On September 25 and 26, 2021, Soil Lab hosted The Full Circle workshop by Sonja Henderson and Piloto Nieves. Attendants to the workshop learned how to work with clay casts and molds to create a temporary memorial installation on-site. The workshop drew inspiration from restorative justice circles, and sacred circles used by Indigenous Peoples. On October 2 and 3, artist JoVonna Jackson led the Neighborhood Ceramics Workshop where attendants made bowls and birdhouses while at Soil Lab’s outdoor kiln.


Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code is a club for girls to  learn how to use fundamentals of computer science and code to collaboratively build a community website.  Our goal is to provide context and mentorship so that girls will be able to think critically and creatively about how we can leverage technology to empower ourselves and our communities.  Each club meeting will consist of a skill building activity, working in breakout groups, and discussions about representation in technology.

Crimedrought, The Solution poster from trap house Chicago

Dope Dialogues are a form of structured dialogue that builds, strengthens, and heals relationships. Dope Dialogues is a communication style used in various communities around Chicago and the world, it opens fresh possibilities for new understandings and authentic connections whether in households, classrooms, workspaces, community organizations, and even criminal justice systems. The practice presents an opportunity for shared values to be identified and applied to how people act and interact with others.

Ucan Peace Public Program

Junk Yard Jam is a program of Drums No Guns, a foundation that integrates a community-based trauma healing process with performance art, peacemaking circles, creative movement, call & response, innovative set designs, and other strategies for trauma awareness and resilience.

NLCP Arts Night Poster

Students showcase and celebrate their art creating space to interact with the local community and share their own creative/artistic practices and ideas.

For more info on this event, please view this video from our partner, Free Spirit Media.

Two community members planting a tree

Oaks of North Lawndale’ is an aspirational project that brings together the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the city of Chicago and the North Lawndale community to reimagine the neighborhood as a verdant, peaceful and tree-lined place.

Rachel Wallis, Inheritance: Quilting Across Prison Walls, 2018-2019, Textiles

Liberation Sewing Bee is Back! Fall 2018, join at the SAIC classroom in Homan Square (906 S. Homan Ave 12th Floor) to sew and support incarcerated women! From 4:30pm to 6:30pm we will be sewing gifts for currently and formerly incarcerated women. Drop in to work on a weekly project, or sign up to sew a quilt in collaboration with women currently in Cook County Jail.

Westside Wednesdays open mic

AMFM has partnered with the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) in Homan Square again to present Westside Wednesdays, a free outdoor performance series and open mic with westside and Homan Square residents, food & art featuring DJ Stepchild, hosted by W.ill.The series is intended to engage the Homan Square and West Side community with artists and art programming with SAIC to build and strengthen ties between the school and the community, to foster self expression and artist building, negate stereotypes, and break bread together.

In March 2016 SAIC held its first annual Day of Service in celebration of the School’s 150th Anniversary. Wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the word “SERVE” designed by artist in residence Mashaun Hendricks, more than 50 SAIC students, faculty, and staff volunteers visited SAIC's partners in Nichols Tower and other local organizations to help our neighbors with their missions. Working with participants and staff at the Firehouse Community Art Center, the Lawndale Christian Health Center, the North Lawndale Greening Committee, and the Foundation for Homan Square, volunteers enthusiastically helped build bee apiaries, create murals, and installed artwork.

Volunteers landscaping
Girl holding purple flower

Migratory Patterns is a collaborative exhibition with SAIC youth programs and Hamilton Chicago Parks District  TRACE at the community center. Photos taken by TRACE

Janice Samuels' mission with the National Youth Art Movement Against Gun Violence Workshops is to provide youth across America, in neighborhoods besieged by gun violence, with an opportunity to make their mark on the issue and to support the growth of these emerging artists' careers as artist-activists and thought leaders. Using their city as a blank canvas, these young people communicate beyond their communities the impact gun violence has on their lives.