A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

My Chicago

Andres Hernandez's Chicago

Associate Professor Andres Hernandez (Art Education, MA 2004) at Garland Court. Photo: Lucy Hewett

Associate Professor Andres Hernandez (Art Education, MA 2004) is a teacher, community activist, and interdisciplinary artist who works with the urban fabric of Chicago as his primary material. The recent winner of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s PXSTL Design-Build Competition, Hernandez told us about some of his favorite places around the city that inspire him.

Chicago's Back Porches

When I was young, my brother, cousins, friends, and neighbors’ kids used the back porch of my grandparents’ apartment building as our playground. Today back porches provide moments to hang with my people—laughing, debating, eating, and listening to music, but mostly annoying the neighbors.

Garland Court Between Randolph and Washington

I’m not quite sure where the “court” is, but this strip of alleyway next to the Chicago Cultural Center is where I go in the warmer weather months to people watch, think, and get away from the office. It’s a good place to watch delivery guys avoid work and people taking smoke breaks. About a year ago, the city reversed the flow of traffic here, but that hasn’t stopped my flow—and no, I don’t have a light, sir.

Red Pepper's Masquerade Lounge

The bartender has to buzz you in at lounges and taverns on the South Side—Red Pepper is no exception. As a teenager, I lived two blocks away and wondered what happened in there. As I got older, I would stop by for some spirits and “atmosphere.” I’ve had a birthday party with friends in the back room and copped some great bootleg DVDs at the bar, including the ‘77 Parliament-Funkadelic P-Funk Earth Tour.

Used Record Stores

I’m a music fiend. My close friends know that my father was a club DJ and record collector, and not only was I trained in the ways of the Technics, but I’m no stranger to the affliction known as “dusty fingers.” I grow my collection by frequenting used record stores, or getting friends to fess up about their neglected vinyl. There’s nothing like the fresh smell of a slightly mildewed album cover to brighten up my day: music IS my sanctuary.