According to Jacob, my pictures do not make much sense...it's a lot of feet. :O )
This is the fourth day of Potluck: Chicago that I didn't have the energy to get around to until now. It was a very inspiring day and I had to do it justice...so lets begin!
This is one of the buildings from Dorchester Project in Woodlawn. The group met here early in the morning. Soon after checking out the building we met Theaster Gates, Rebuild Foundation founder. And this is the building where it all started. Here are some words from Mr. Gates, "When I moved to the 6900 block of Dorchester Avenue (minutes from my job at the University of Chicago), I simply needed a place to live and wanted my home to be Chicago’s Southside. My intention was to create a totally recycled/repurposed material clad living space that I could invite my artist, and art loving friends to for dinner, music, and conversation. I wanted to live in a place that fostered creativity, made neighbors more than usually comfortable, and could serve as a meeting place for those interested in community engagement, cultural programming, and celebrating diversity in the arts. As I embarked on the journey of turning a once neighborhood candy store into a living space for me and the beautiful objects I wanted to live among, I began to fill my home with many interesting finds and materials that I came across – an old copper sink, wooden floors from a shut-down local bowling alley, and ceramic vessels that held the stories of my travels and life as a potter. Then came the albums – 8,000 LPs from the closing of Dr. Wax Records in Hyde Park. Next came the books -14,000 architecture and design books to be exact from the closing of the Prairie Avenue Bookstore. Then came the Glass Lantern Slides from the University of Chicago Art History Department – all 60,000 of them – and before I knew it, I had on my hands more than just a few small projects. The archives that were now housed in Dorchester took things to an entirely new level and now my neighborhood, my house, my block, just might someday be added to that list of important places that anchor communities and cities alike – my neighborhood might someday be seen as an artistic hub for creative cultural happenings on the South Side of Chicago. Mix these special archives in with an Artist Residency Program and arts programming for the young people on my block and you have a recipe for change, and the capacity to impact and rebuild an entire neighborhood." This writing came from the Reblog Foundation.
A view from inside.
More from inside.
The beautiful floor!
A cabinet in the bathroom...all those beautiful woods and colors....mmmmmmmm!
We got to see another building that is currently being worked on. Instead of tearing the entire thing down and building a brand new building (although it would be cheaper that way) Theaster chooses to renovate the building to keep as much of the original beauty and history and not to create a new building that is ugly and doesn't belong.
Inside the building being renovated.
more from inside...we had to watch out for holes in the floor, that may be why I didn't get many pictures...I was afraid I would fall through the floor if I didn't pay attention.
We also got to take an outside look at the Dante Harper Project. This was a Chicago Housing Autority (CHA) development that has been vacant for years until now. "We propose to reactive the Dante Harper Townhomes into a development that provides 32 artist and mixed income rental housing, as well as an onsite art center where creative expressions, cultural exchanges, and art production can happen." Rebuild Foundation is not only creating art spaces but also creating places for people to live and be a part of a community. I would like to find a way to make art that works with people. The Dante Harper Project has gotten me very excited about the possibilities of art!
After we took the tour we sat down to listen to the life stories of Mr. Bill, Theaster Gates (the artist's father), and Ms. Marva Jolly.
They were all so wise and made me realize more than ever that I still have A LOT to live and learn. Mr. Hook grew up in Alabama and moved to Chicago. He was asked to give his perspective on something Martin Luther King had said about the different racism he experienced in the South and in Chicago and that Chicago's racism was far worst. Mr. Hook said that in the south, people were upfront and told you they didn't like you but in Chicago people would talk to you like an equal and the moment you turned around they were saying hateful things. He got teary eyed and I could see how much pain the hatred caused him. I can't find the words to express how I felt.
His wish for Chicago was "a family structure that can't be replaced by gang violence."
Then Ms. Jolly spoke and she was so charming...and jolly!
She had said that she used to wish for rain to see a rainbow and she was convinced the pot of gold was in Chicago. She was born in Mississippi and grew up on a farm making mud pies. She would tell her mother she wanted to know where black people came from because all she had ever been taught was where the white people were from. She went to Africa in 1974 and said that the experience "filled her up and allowed her to come home [America]."
She said that woman artists are the big deal now and that "people ought to have something to say" I can't agree more!
She was full of such wonderful words that I kept filling my notebook with quotes. "It's you, and what you gonna do!" and "if you practice positiveness, it will become a part of you." I have been trying to incorporate the last quote into my life...it's difficult but then I remember what she said and I try again.
We then went to the Smart Museum which I had never heard of nor been to, but will now be a regular visitor because it was fantastic. The artwork at the moment is work by Viktor Koretsky. He created communist posters that were unlike the propaganda posters we are more familiar with. His work was emotionally driven to make the viewer feel for the "Soviet citizens and others struggling for civil rights and independence around the globe."
We went back to Dorchester and discussed our future plans together as a group and the work we will be creating in the near future. I am excited to approach art in a different way and with a group. This has been, and will continue to be an amazing learning experience. Stay tuned to find out more about what Rights, Radicals and Revolutions will be doing!
The rest of the night we enjoyed a fantastic potluck at Dorchester and danced and relaxed!