Interview Issue 2017 | Interviews | Visual Arts

More Than Just Optics

The Englewood Arts Collective on making space for art in the neighborhood

Jason Schumer

The Englewood Arts Collective is a group of nine artists, working in diverse media, who came together earlier this year to influence public perceptions of Englewood and improve access to art within the neighborhood. I sat down with Collective members Tonika Johnson (a photographer), Janell Nelson (a graphic designer), and Joe Nelson (a muralist) to talk about the forming of the Collective and its plans for the future.

Visual Arts

Spray Paint School

Miguel Aguilar embodies his love and understanding of street art in the Graffiti Institute

Rod Sawyer

Years ago, the artist and graffiti-writer Miguel Aguilar, also known as Kane-One, came to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) as an undergraduate with little classroom art training, but with experience in street art stretching back to age thirteen.

Nature | Nature Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Art In Nature

“Gathering Spaces” along the path of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor

La Ronda Parakata (Luke Sironski-White)

As part of an artistic initiative to bring more aesthetic life into the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, a series of “Gathering Spaces” were recently introduced into the long stretch of park. These five spaces— “Sankofa for the Earth,” “Sounding Bronzeville,” “Caracol,” “La Ronda Paraketa,” and “Set in Stone”—offer refuge for those who find themselves tired along their travels. An attractive getaway from the already serene landscape that envelops them, each Gathering Space has its own important backstory that connects to its creation, material, and neighborhood. Spread out between the three neighborhoods of Bronzeville, Chinatown, and Pilsen, the five Gathering Spaces were created by organizations located in their respective communities.

Nature | Nature Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Building Green Spaces

The Chicago Park District experiments with culturally informed collaborative park programming

Natalie Friedberg

Traveling north on the Lakeshore Trail, you may have noticed that at around 33rd Street the manicured lawn of the surrounding grass shifts to prairie grasses and shrubs. This marks one of the borders of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, one of the Chicago Park District’s designated natural areas.

Visual Arts

Beyond the Boundaries

Exploring the power of personal narratives in graffiti

Desi Mundo

At Chicago Zine Fest, which took place this past weekend at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport and the Plumbers Union Hall in West Loop, I shared zines that included photography of graffiti in Minneapolis, a subject I’ve explored in depth here in Chicago.

Arts Issue 2017 | Chinatown | Visual Arts

A House of Memories

The Chinese-American Museum of Chicago reflects the community’s past, present, and future

Di Delgado Pineda

Standing among some quiet residential buildings on 23rd Street and tucked not far from Chinatown’s cluster of restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores on Wentworth is the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (CAMOC). Even with its doors flanked by two stone lions, hand-carved by artisans in China’s Fujian Province and donated to the museum by Chinese officials, CAMOC is pretty inconspicuous, and you might miss it if you aren’t looking for it. CAMOC is about as small as museums get, but contains much more than one might expect.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Art for All Wards

The city undertakes an ambitious public arts commissioning program that aims to reach the whole city

Turtel Onli

A crowd gathered in Daley plaza on August 15, 1967 to witness the unveiling of the “Chicago Picasso.” The installment was an unprecedented one—up until then, Chicago public sculptures had mostly taken the form of commemorative statues. The “Picasso” would signify a new direction for Chicago city art away from the commemorative style. Later installments like “Cloud Gate,” which are now entrenched parts of the downtown landscape, exemplified this artistic shift.

Arts Issue 2017 | Visual Arts

Building Cabinets, Computers, and Community

In community workshops, South Side “makers” get to work with their hands

Courtesy of the Museum of Science and Industry

The weekly member meeting of the South Side Hackerspace (SSH) begins with a call to those in the room to “gather around the TV.” The TV in question is facedown on a table with its back wide open and its internal hardware exposed. It’s the electronic centerpiece of a table cluttered with wires and circuitry.