The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) hosts programs for the North Lawndale community in the 12th-floor classroom at Nichols Tower in Homan Square. We offer free classes, workshops, and events in a variety of art genres for adults (ages 18+), youth (ages 14-18), and intergenerational groups (ages 13 and up; children ages 12 and under are welcome to attend with an adult). 

Our workshops are often led by local art instructors and provide participants with the opportunity to learn a specific art skill or technique. The goal of these programs is to provide opportunities for community members to learn about and engage with the arts. For more information, please visit our public programs registration page.

To see previous classes and workshops, visit our program gallery below.


Lawndale Civic Design

Class instructor and students in the youth class posing for a group shot in a classroom.


In the youth class Lawndale Civic Design, Lawndale youth conducted research that examined barriers to walkability at the Harrison-Homan intersection by conducting interviews and collecting oral histories. The data collected in this course then informed the visual and physical design solutions that SAIC degree students produced in several Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) degree classes. Youth in Lawndale Civic Design developed and nurtured their observational skills, gathered oral histories, and collaborated with college-age and graduate-level students at SAIC. This collaboration provides a reciprocal benefit to both Lawndale youth and SAIC students: It gives youth an opportunity to visually communicate the impact of neighborhood gas stations on their community while offering SAIC students experience in developing resident-led, community design solutions.

Lawndale Civic Design engages neighborhood youth through design and urban infrastructure and coordinates projects with the SAIC Design @ Homan Square degree class. This class dives into aesthetics, ways to use visual language to represent ideas, and connections between social and physical environments. The students’ work culminates in an end-of-year exhibition in which a portfolio piece is displayed. One of the course’s outcomes is to learn how to visualize data through the use of mood boards to describe North Lawndale’s neighborhood aesthetic. These were shared with AIADO degree students.

To watch the student presentations from our fall 2020 youth course, visit our YouTube Channel.

Denim Lab

Illustration of Nichols Tower including the logo for WALK-H Designed by SAIC alum Kai Lin Catherine Cao.


Denim Lab is a fashion design, business incubator, and research lab for adults 18 and up to learn how to work with natural dyes and textiles while also gaining start-up entrepreneurial skills to launch a commercial product line. The course uses the history of African Indigo and study contributions of African American fashion in denim as themes to learn about natural dyeing, contributions from African American designers, environmental sustainability in fashion, and online business platforms. This lab is dedicated to sharing the value of craftsmanship while increasing workforce inclusivity, digital literacy, and opportunities for artisans and designers in Chicago.

During 14 sessions, twice a week for eight weeks, the lab combines learning about textiles, starting with ancient indigo growing techniques, and construction and pattern-making. It includes research on influential historic fashion movements from workwear to contemporary streetwear. Additionally, this program teaches participants how to create and initiate research to create a sellable product line. There are opportunities to work with the School of the Arts and Design of Chicago.

Remote video URL
Remote video URL