When K. was offered a position as artist-in-residence and curator at Sanctuary Cafe, a coffee shop located inside of University Church, she was thrilled. It was the summer of 2018. K.—an artist and a parishioner at the Hyde Park church, who requested to be identified by her first initial so that her artworks would not be associated with this story—found herself in an Uber Pool with Martin McKinney and Ellen Lose, both managers at Sanctuary and fellow parishioners at the church. They recognized her from the congregation, and as they got to chatting about K.’s art, she realized they all shared a common vision: art not for art’s sake, but for the public good.
On an overcast Saturday afternoon, more than thirty people gathered at the old Pullman Livery Stables on 112th and Cottage Grove and pinned small white ribbons to their raincoats. One hundred and twenty-five years ago, Pullman residents—and people across the country—wore similar ribbons to show their support for the workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company, who laid down their tools and walked off the job on May 11, 1894.
Immediately upon entering the Arts Incubator, an arts initiative and gallery run by the University of Chicago in Washington Park, visitors stopped to look at the dozens of vertical black banners hanging in rows on the hallway walls. Each banner bore a single name in simple white lettering: Gregory Banks, James Lewis, Lee Nora, Unknown 14 Year Old. At the bottom of the banner were the words “Tortured in Chicago.”