Chicago Arts District 

2nd Fridays Gallery Night

Monthly

The Chicago Arts District hosts 2nd Fridays Gallery Night, the monthly opening receptions at the galleries and artists’ studios centered around South Halsted Street, beginning at 1711 and ending at 2007 South Halsted Street in Chicago.

Visit the Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice and other creative spaces in the Chicago Arts District at South Halsted Street as they showcase an exciting display of art and artists from Chicago and beyond. This unique art community opens its doors, free of charge, and lets you get up close and personal with the art and artists. Pick up a map at the information center at 1945 S. Halsted Street and explore the city’s most vibrant art community, the Chicago Arts District!

Current Exhibition 

Springtime on Neptune

2nd Fridays Gallery Night:  June 8th | July 13th | August 10th

Springtime on Neptune is an exhibition exploring ideas of Afrofuturism and radical imagination and showcases artwork created by artists ranging from ages 5 to 13. Their artistic expression is an investigation of the constantly shifting definition of Afrofuturism, its effect on contemporary culture, and the conceptual ideas of outer space being utilized to assist in the education of fine art and contemporary social issues.

The title, Springtime on Neptune is derived from a composition created by Sun Ra, often referred to as the pioneer of Afrofuturism. The song, titled “have you heard the news from Neptune,” feeds into Sun Ra’s larger body of work, which brings news of a utopian other world and was created to “wake up” a culture. Springtime on Neptune is answering his call and providing the “news” to the public from the voices of kids.

But Afrofuturism is more than just Black Science Fiction—it is a starting point for dreaming of a more radically imaginative, inclusive culture and world, in which Black identity is acknowledged, and has a celebrated role.

The artists that created this show were given space to alter their imagined futures and their imagined worlds. Often children are bound by limitations of their current environments and their imaginations become stunted by what immediately surrounds them, both physically and mentally. The skill of imagining is absolutely essential in being able to evaluate current conditions in order to initiate radical change.

Past Exhibitions + Events

Just Add Water

03.09.18

Just Add Water is an exhibition featuring a series of installation-based artworks made by artists, ages 5-13. These works investigate and illustrate both historical and contemporary conditions around water access and its relationship to systemic inequality.

Water is a commodity, a community gathering space, and a basic human right. Water is necessary for survival. It is simultaneously a symptom and a structural component of social equity divisions.

Students examined this vital resource as a means to discuss environmental concerns, such as water usage, as well as social issues, such as swimming pool segregation and the Flint water crisis.

What are the implications of nearly 800 million people worldwide having no access to clean water? How does a study of water access highlight social justice issues? Where and how do environmental concerns intersect with social justice issues?

The work in Just Add Water is intended to pose these questions in an open-ended way, encouraging both the artists and viewers to think critically about the complex ways in which resource access and allocation are entangled within larger systems of power, and what it might take to make positive changes to those systems.

MLK Tribute Concert at Chicago Sinfonietta 

01.15.18

Join the Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice as we parnter with the Chicago Sinfonietta to engage concert attendees in an architectural project to design and create your own paper house.

The museum’s most recent exhibition, “Listening Through the Walls” explores the topic of architecture in the city of Chicago- from vacant lot ownership and gentrification to red lining and the shifting neighborhood maps. We are also making our own artist and activist buttons. Design your own button to wear.

With words penned in 1960 by Langston Hughes that still resonate as if written by a lyricist today, with music by Laura Karpman, amplified by a cast including orchestra, opera, jazz vocals, spoken word, and archival audio samples, Ask Your Mama is the single epic, multi-media jazz/symphonic composition that will mark our 30th anniversary MLK Tribute concert. Don’t miss your chance to hear this Grammy® award-winning masterpiece (played live only 3 times in its history) in its full glory!

The Consent Class

12.18.17 | 6pm to 8pm

We will be providing parent workshops to help us as the adult recognize the signs of abuse. The children’s workshop will be kindergarten to 8th grade friendly.

Coffee and pan dulce will be provided by La Catrina Cafe.
Thank you the staff at RVA (https://www.rapevictimadvocates.org/) for helping us bring this event to our neighborhood

Below are the topics we will be covering in the workshops:

Youth Workshop Topics

  • Consent
  • Identify private body parts
  • Establishing personal boundaries
  • Safe and unsafe touch

Spanish Parent/Adult Workshop Topics

  • Adultism
  • Cultural factors that impact survivors from disclosing and/or seeking help
  • Prevention (Informing what we are teaching the kiddos and how if applied in their homes, it can help prevent CSA)
  • Intervention – Signs and Symptoms of child sexual abuse

In Spanish:

Temas del Taller para Jóvenes

  • Consentimiento
  • Identificar partes privadas del cuerpo
  • Establecer límites personales
  • Toque seguro y inseguro

Temas del Taller en Español para Padres/Adultos

  • Adultismo
  • Factores culturales que impactan sobrevivientes de no divulgar o recibir ayuda
  • Prevención (Informar que estamos ensenándoles a los jóvenes y si fuesen aplicados en sus casas, puede ayudar a prevenir el abuso sexual de menores)
  • Intervención – Señales y síntomas de abuso sexual de menores

Listening Through the Walls

10.13.17

Chicago is one of the most influential architectural hubs in the country. However, even the briefest examination will reveal the striking differences between the gilded skyscrapers of downtown and other bustling historic neighborhoods. This exhibition seeks to highlight a view from those not often featured in the narrative surrounding architechture.

Listening Through the Walls is an examination of neighborhood from children aged 5-13 and how the housing and urban developments around Chicago shape their lives. Architecture is never neutral. The structures we live in were created by architects with perspectives, inspiration, and often blind spots that can lead to larger human rights issues.

Every structure holds the history of every family that lived there. Walls are added and redacted with shifts in family needs and landlord motives, creating a living history that is not always visible.

This show is designed to highlight questions that we asked the students about architecture in their neighborhoods. This is their show, about their perspectives on their homes and communities. As we displayed their work we invited visitors to discuss these same questions and help us build a dialogue on how architecture can shape and mold a community.

indiGO: a benefit exhibiton

07.14.17

Indigo is an iconic American color; from the blue in American flags, blue jeans and boy scout uniforms, to the U.S passport cover. How did this color become synonymous with the United States?

During the spring of 2017, the Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice worked with 5th and 7th graders from the south and west sides of Chicago to examine early indigo practices and learn from visiting contemporary artists who use indigo in their own work. Students explored current dye practices and the environmental effects of clothing manufacturing, and dove into the actual indigo dye process and several fiber art techniques such as shibori and weaving.

Indigo, also known as Indigofera Tinctoria, was a staple crop in the American South. By the 1770’s indigo plants comprised one third of South Carolina’s exports. The plant’s leaves contain a chemical used to produce a rich blue, fade-resistant dye, but it was cultivated and fermented under horrendous working conditions. The process of dyeing with indigo is as complex as it is perilous and the slave owners in South Carolina had very limited understanding of it. The knowledge of the cultivation and recipes for using the plants came from the enslaved peoples from west Africa. The average enslaved person’s life expectancy while working on a plantation was only 7 years. Fermenting indigo plants were so odorous and repulsive, even the buzzards refused to eat them. At the start of the 19th century, indigo was replaced by cheaper synthetic dye. However, the iconic color is an American staple while the history of its origins has become forgotten.

Make Your Own Passport: Borders, Boundaries, and Collaboration

01.13.17

This exhibition asked young scholars to explore and question ideas of space, borders, and boundaries by learning about two contemporary artists Tintin Wulia and Mark Bradford. Both of these artists re-examine and critique our understandings of maps and border politics.

Tintin Wulia is a contemporary Indonesian artist living in Australia whose work centers around ideas of borders and our  national versus individual identities. Mark Bradford is a Los Angeles based mixed media artist most known for his large scale mixed media collages using salvaged materials to create map-like abstractions.

Both artists create available assignments that were then created and interpreted by students of KIPP Chicago schools. These projects allowed students to begin to question and examine maps and borders on a macro and micro scale.

Expressions of Peace

06.10.16

This installation is the collaborative project of the visual arts fifth graders from KIPP Ascend Primary. When students began to discuss ‘peace’, they were inclined to talk about the violence that occurs in the Chicago they reside in; the Chicago that many people are unfamiliar with. Their discussion underscores the story we know to be true- there are two Chicagos. This violence often directly affects our students, and if it doesn’t, its consequences are still felt by them. There is a fear of walking down their own street. A fear of playing in their front yard. A fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

These pinwheels represent the 1,280 shootings that occurred in Chicago from January 1 through May 15, 2016. Made from paper, they allude to the fragility and vulnerability of so many people who are affected by the violence in this city.

The 212 ceramic tiles mark the lives lost to violence during this same time period. Students chose to use clay to emphasize the permanence of these lost lives and each tile is marked with texture, a name, or a message to someone whose life was taken too soon. We encouraged visitors to touch the tiles and to reflect on the significance of each one.

It took 21 people (19 students, one teacher, and one Americorps volunteer) 16 hours to fold the pinwheels and create the tiles. They were often overwhelmed by the monotonous repetition of the task, but there was meaning  to be found in the creative process. During the making process, the numbers, 1,280 and 212, emerged as a more tangible representation and subsequently, the visualization of these numbers as art forms help us to comprehend the significance of these numbers.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -MLK JR.

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