Chicago Arts District 

2nd Fridays Gallery Night


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!

Find Purpose. Create Progress.


2nd Fridays Gallery Night:  September 13th | October 11th | November 8th |

Find Purpose. Create Progress., created by KIPP Chicago students in grades 1-6, is an exhibition that calls on us to engage, reflect, and participate to make our neighborhood, country, and the world a better place. The students participated in 5 art workshops at the museum to create this exhibition. Each week of workshops involved a different theme to explore ideas of social justice and activism. Utilizing a variety of materials and skills, students used art as a means for reflection and engagement in conversations around activism and justice.

During the Create a Mural workshop, students collaborated to design and draw a neighborhood with the changes they want to see, thinking of all the ways our own communities could be safer, cleaner, and better for all residents. 

The Upcycled Art workshop encouraged students to explore the numerous possibilities for upcycling our old, unwanted clothes, toys, and housewares into works of art. We turned discarded paper into new decorative paper and old t-shirts into yarn for weaving. 

Using Post-It notes to create a flipbook during our Animation week, students learned the most basic form of animation. Then they wrote short stories about using challenges to inspire change and learned stop-motion animation techniques to tell the stories. 

Students investigated the roots of traditional cultural objects and their current appropriations during our Craftivism week. After learning of the origins and story of the Ojibwe dreamcatcher, a local artist led students in creating their own. 

During the Activist Superhero workshop, students imagined themselves as superheroes and wrote about their powers, actions, and character traits that would allow them to be social justice activists. They created superhero trading cards, designing everything from their costumes to powers and taglines. 

Heart Felt and Sew Kind


Craftivism is a form of activism using traditional craft media such as sewing, weaving, macrame, embroidery, and cross stitch. It acknowledges that we can all make a difference and that craft is one way to do something positive. Heart Felt and Sew Kind, created by students in grades 2-8, is a multimedia exploration of utilizing craft as activism. 

The inherent nature of craft involves slow and repetitive gestures. When we allow our minds to fully focus on the making process, it becomes one form of mindfulness. Similar to a yoga class, making something by hand temporarily relieves our minds and bodies of outside stresses.

There are infinite ways to use craft as activism and the projects on display are just a few examples. A handmade gift as a gesture of kindness and outreach creates a powerful interaction between maker and receiver. Craft as a form of communication seeks to build understanding and therefore more love and peace. What other ways can you imagine making our world a better place through craftivism?

Activist Soup


Activist Soup is a collaborative, multimedia exhibition created by artists ages six to thirteen years old, celebrating twenty-six living American activists. This multi-generational group of activists has made substantial contributions toward overcoming the societal injustices and oppressive institutions that prevent all of us from living in a truly equitable country.

The people highlighted are the leaders who fight for change and inspire us to join them. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary work, showing us that we can all be activists.

Each letter of the alphabet represents a verb, noun, or adjective related to activism, and each category features one activist. This list is not intended to be comprehensive. We hope to provide a snapshot of the myriad avenues of pursuing a better world and to acknowledge an inspiring group of living activists. We also acknowledge the countless lesser-known citizens working for a cause whose contributions are not always recognized. We hope you will have the opportunity to encounter a new face or two today, and that you are able to learn about the many ways you can, or may already be, an activist.

Just Add Water


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.

Listening Through the Walls


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


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


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


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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