Through the support of community-engagement research-and-development grants, and the ongoing exchange within the engagement learning community, organizations worked with their communities and with each other to shape their exhibitions and events. The projects that emerge through Art Design Chicago are a lens through which to view the city—they offer Chicagoans and visitors alike the chance to better understand Chicago and its art and design histories and vibrant communities. Included here are three projects informed through dialogue with communities.
The Block Museum of Art’s project team held research exchanges to collaboratively develop, together with Indigenous artists, activists, and community leaders, the exhibition Woven Being: Indigenous Art Histories of Chicagoland (working title). The museum’s project team writes the exhibition is being formed through “Indigenous curatorial methodologies that prioritize collaboration, reciprocity, and sustained dialogue with an expanding, intergenerational community of Indigenous knowledge sharers and non-Indigenous allies,” and it employs Indigenous curatorial practices to speak to the interwovenness of Indigenous art, materials, and time in the Chicago region. Lois Biggs (Cherokee Nation and White Earth Ojibwe), Terra Foundation Curatorial Research Fellow at The Block, wrote a personal account of a research trip that will inform the exhibition.
The Chicago Public Library’s photography exhibition Pilsen Days: Photographs by Akito Tsuda, which is scheduled to be on view at the Harold Washington Library Center in 2024 as well as at the Lozano and West Lawn library branches, presents a body of images that capture the life of the Pilsen neighborhood in the 1990s. Members of the Pilsen community informed the research for the exhibition by participating in an oral-history interview project and helping the exhibition team connect with their neighbors, family members, and friends represented in the photographs.
The Smart Museum hosted a summer teen program, produced in partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority, where the teens conducted research and made site visits to learn about and map the contemporary ceramics community in Chicago. Through this program, these teens charted a network of ceramics studios and kilns within the Chicagoland area and worked with artists and ceramics educators to visually represent the diversity and of the local ceramics community. Research conducted through this program informed the museum’s Ruth Duckworth: Life as a Unity exhibition, which showcases the creative output of Duckworth as a ceramics pioneer and makes use of art-historical advances of the last several decades to examine her Chicago work in a new light.
“We hope that the relationships and knowledge that our partners are building with the support of the engagement research-and-development grants and the learning community have a life beyond Art Design Chicago and continue to grow, leading to lasting partnerships within—and beyond—the city,” said Silverman.
To learn more about Art Design Chicago and view a calendar of exhibitions and events, please visit artdesignchicago.org.