Civic Engagement Projects
Oaks of North Lawndale
Inspired by artist Joseph Beuys’ 7,000 Eichen (Germany, 1982), Oaks of North Lawndale is an aspirational project that brings SAIC, the City of Chicago, and the North Lawndale community together to reimagine the neighborhood as a verdant, peaceful, and tree-lined place.
Palas por Pistolas (Guns into Shovels)
As a symbolic start to the project, on September 23, 2017, the Office of Engagement brought artist Pedro Reyes to SAIC’s Homan Square campus to restage his work. On this momentous occasion, SAIC’s mobile foundry and Lawndale Forge were installed in the Homan Square parking lot, and Reyes oversaw SAIC students, alums, and North Lawndale community members melt down confiscated firearms. The molten metal was then smithed into shovel heads and attached to wooden handles milled from local ash trees felled as a result of the emerald ash borer beetle. The handles were prepared by youth involved with Greater West Town Partnerships, and the shovels were then used by community members and North Lawndale Employment Network clients to dig holes and plant 10 trees. Our neighbors in Nichols Tower were invited to table the event, benefitting from the increase in foot traffic.
CCA Academy Class
Arts Administration and Policy students along with Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects students worked with faculty and staff to develop the vision and mission of this program.
CCA Academy Food Forest
A food forest is a community garden consisting of a diversity of edible perennials developed through a collaboration between North Lawndale high school students and Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO) students. This food forest, titled Perma Park, is an urban agriculture classroom for the neighborhood youth and a source of fresh fruit for a community that is often classified as a food desert.
Yo-Yo Ma Performance
Pedro Reyes introduced Yo-Yo Ma to the Oaks of North Lawndale project. In a show of support, Ma performed in the neighborhood and supported the planting of additional trees needed to reforest Unity Park.
Unity Park is a community-managed park that’s in desperate need of a revival. Students in the Design at Homan Square course have been working closely with community members to develop design-based solutions to some of the park’s challenges.
Venice Architecture Biennale 2018
Commissioned by the SAIC and The University of Chicago (UChicago) on behalf of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos was the official US entry at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Devoted to exploring the notion of citizenship and the potential role of architecture and design in creating spaces for it, Dimensions of Citizenship comprised seven unique installations, each created by a transdisciplinary team of architects and designers.
From February 15 through April 27, 2019 Dimensions of Citizenship was on view at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago. With support from the Alphawood Foundation the exhibition was accompanied by a range of public programs exploring citizenship and belonging, including talks, performances, workshops, and engagement with local partners.
CreatiVets was started by SAIC alum and Iraq War veteran Richard Casper (BFA 2012) who found healing through his sculpture courses and guitar. Casper says that his time spent and friendships made at SAIC healed him more than months of therapy, and the idea to help other veterans was born while he went to school here. CreatiVets flies veterans to Chicago to study at SAIC for three weeks each summer.
Day of Service
Our aim is to connect students, faculty, and staff to diverse communities in the city of Chicago. As a volunteer, you will visit the Nichols Tower at the Foundation Homan Square in North Lawndale, a new hub for arts and multimedia education, youth leadership development, job training, and urban farming. You can work with organizations such as the Firehouse Community Art Center, the Foundation for Homan Square, Sweet Beginnings, DRW College Prep, Family Focus, the Chicago Youth Center, and the Better Boys Foundation.
RE-TOOL 21 is an exciting program designed for individuals who are looking to acquire the skills necessary for art preparation jobs, including installation and de-installation; packaging; and storing art pieces, objects, and artifacts. This hands-on training includes networking opportunities with Chicagoland art handling professionals. Generously funded by the Joyce Foundation, RE-TOOL 21 seeks to provide training to groups historically underrepresented in the field and those who support the goal of promoting inclusive, pluralistic arts and culture sector.
The Creative Lab for Cultural Leaders
The Creative Lab for Cultural Leaders (CLCL) is a unique, highly interactive opportunity for senior arts leaders and their teams to explore dynamic and innovative leadership and organizational structures. The program aims to equip leaders to more effectively grow and sustain their organizations in a climate of increased competition for resources and complex challenges in serving their communities. CLCL is generously funded by the Joyce Foundation.
Walkability Assessment Study
The 2019 Walkability Assessment Study focused on identifying the barriers to walkability in the half-mile radius of the Kedzie Blue Line Station in North Lawndale. Supported by PHIMC and CLOCC, the study was a collaboration between SAIC, the NLCCC Transportation Committee, and local high school students.
Corporate-sponsored Research Classes
Chicago Botanic Gardens
Nature in the Sketchbook, in the Garden, in the Museum was the first course in a collaboration between SAIC and the Chicago Botanic Garden. Offered in May 2019, it met twice a week: once at the Garden and once at the School. “This class was all about interdisciplinary learning, combining rigorous fine art education with scientific expertise and experiential learning,” said instructor Jeane Cohen (MFA 2018).
Photo credit: Tony Favarula
Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design 2018 Symposium: Artists/Designers/Citizens
Hosted by SAIC, the 2018 Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) Symposium, Artists/Designers/Citizens, took place from November 7–9, 2018, in Chicago, on the Art Institute of Chicago’s school and museum campus. Artists/Designers/Citizens positioned the practice and study of art and design as central to the meaning, acts, and affinities known as citizenship.
Wrightwood 659 Tadao Ando
SAIC students enrolled in Seems Real, On the Surface, a summer AIADO companion course to the Alphawood Foundation exhibition taught by lecturers Aura Venckunaite and Cyrus Penarroyo, had the opportunity to construct models of Ando's Clark Institute that are currently on display on the fourth floor of Wrightwood 659.