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Last week, the Experimental Station in Woodlawn hosted the opening of the second annual “Bike Shop Art Show,” featuring work created by participants and volunteers of Blackstone Bicycle Works—which, like the Weekly, is housed within the Experimental Station—and organized by Experimental Station assistant director Matthew Searle. Blackstone’s youth arts program is coordinated by Experimental Station lead teaching artist Tita Thomas in partnership with the University of Chicago’s South Side in Focus program.

Comics, signs, and photos by the youth artists were displayed throughout the exhibit, joined by works by South Shore artist and self-described “builder” Faheem Majeed, New York City interdisciplinary artist LoVid, photographer David Johnson, and artists from the Hyde Park Art Center’s youth program, led by Dorian Sylvain. 

Thomas encourages those artists to use art as a tool for self-healing and as a form of cultural resistance. In a story on Blackstone’s Friday arts programming published in March, third-grade youth artist EliJournee Slack told the Weekly, “I just want to be an artist. I want to paint, draw, and a lot of other stuff. I might do posters about how people in the past helped stop slavery. I want to put them in schools, in history museums, and also places where kids and grown-ups can see about people that were slaves in the past and helped free slaves…I like art because when you draw stuff, it’s not just for certain people. Sometimes it’s for everybody.”

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“Helmets of the future” exhibit made by Blackstone Bicycle Works youth members in collaboration with resident artist Tita Thomas (Jason Schumer)

Dorian Sylvain and Tita Thomas stand by their installation, “exploding bike shop,” made in collaboration with Blackstone Bicycle youth, Dorian’s students from the Hyde Park Art Center, and volunteers from South Side in Focus (J. Michael Eugenio)

Blackstone Bicycle Works youth Symone, Makyah, Kamyia, Ameir, Myeisha, and Terrion, performing with Alex DeGraaf’s “Pascal Fractal.” They sang along karaoke-style to lyrics they wrote about the bike shop. (J. Michael Eugenio)

Guests painting cardboard bicycle helmets, one of several activities that took place after food and live performances (J. Michael Eugenio)

J. Michael Eugenio

“Bike Shop Art Show.” Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Open by appointment through July 1. experimentalstation.org

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