Jim Iska & Nicholas Senn High School

“…the Senn experience provides students a unique foundation for living, working, thriving, and leading,” Jim Iska, Photographer

Project Overview

The tremendous diversity of Senn is what many students cited to me as one of their proudest features of their school. Forming personal bonds and friendships with people coming from vastly different cultures and interests, (thanks to the addition of the IB program and Senn Arts), the Senn experience provides students a unique foundation for living, working, thriving, and leading in an ever diverse and changing world. 

Looking back on my involvement at Senn over the past year, I can’t help being struck by the notion that these students are our future, and that our future is in good hands. 

As it has for over a century, Senn stands at the forefront of progressive education. Ella Flagg Young would be proud. 

 

Meet the Artist

Jim Iska

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Jim Iska has been photographing the urban scene for over thirty years. After graduating from the Institute of Design in Chicago in 1980, Iska’s work has revolved around on architecture from the classic to the vernacular, and its integral role in defining the city. He collaborated with author and historian Francis Morrone on a series of architectural guidebooks of New York City, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn in the 1990s.  Iska also produced contemporary photography for the first and second editions ofThe City in a Garden: A History of Chicago’s Parks by Julia S. Bachrach.  He is currently the author of the blog “In and About the City.”

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Jim Iska has been photographing the urban scene for over thirty years. After graduating from the Institute of Design in Chicago in 1980, Iska’s work has revolved around on architecture from the classic to the vernacular, and its integral role in defining the city. He collaborated with author and historian Francis Morrone on a series of architectural guidebooks of New York City, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn in the 1990s.  Iska also produced contemporary photography for the first and second editions ofThe City in a Garden: A History of Chicago’s Parks by Julia S. Bachrach.  He is currently the author of the blog “In and About the City.”

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Cecil McDonald Jr. & Senn High School

Project Overview

A More Perfect Union

I am proposing a series of interventions, actions and explorations throughout the Senn campus, I have identified (see attached for locations, materials and methodologies) spaces on campus where these happenings may take place. After a fruitful period of incubation regarding how to proceed, I have decided that it would be best to proceed as an artist working on the campus as an autonomous entity. This would allow the students to observe me and my practice without guidance or scaffolding from faculty, staff and administration. I believe it best that students encounter me and my ideas in an unexpected, arbitrary manner, a thoughtful, gentle interloper. I will be referencing Let America Be America Again, by the American poet and novelist Langston Hughes, this will be my anchor text. I suspect that these series of actions will take me right up to the holiday break. After the break I will circle back to the classroom with the Hughes poem as our guide and anchor engaging the students in a similar fashion; guiding the students to create and execute works based on works that I have demonstrated on campus as well new ideas and methods that may come from teachers and students input and insight. I believe this approach allows the student an opportunity to reflect and more importantly utilize some, if not all, knowledge and skills gained thus far, at the service of making as a civic leader and creative endeavor. Peripherally (but just as importantly) I have reached out (and secured a commitment) to the music department to have an original score created on the same themes hereto outlined. I expected to do the same with dance for a choreographed piece based on notions and concepts of our collected Americaness . I look forward to your feedback, comments and suggestions as we move forward…I am excited to be in this position and fortunate to be at Senn to put these ideas into motion.

Meet the Artist

Cecil McDonald Jr.

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Cecil McDonald Jr. uses photography, video, and text to explore the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of black culture. McDonald studied fashion, house music and dance club culture before receiving a MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor and a teaching artist at the Center for Community Arts Partnership at Columbia College Chicago. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Harris Bank Collection. He was awarded the: Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society, Lucerne, Switzerland, Residency and the 3Arts Teaching Artist Award. McDonald participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in July 2013. Most recently McDonald completed the DCASE residency where he began work on his most recent body of work Cuts and Beats, a project that montages performance photography from the floors of dance festivals and nightclubs with turn-of-the-century imagery from stage and theater advertisements, sheet music covers and celebrity portraiture.

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Cecil McDonald Jr. uses photography, video, and text to explore the intersections of masculinity, familial relations, and the artistic and intellectual pursuits of black culture. McDonald studied fashion, house music and dance club culture before receiving a MFA in Photography at Columbia College Chicago, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor and a teaching artist at the Center for Community Arts Partnership at Columbia College Chicago. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with works in the permanent collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art, Chicago Bank of America LaSalle Collection, and the Harris Bank Collection. He was awarded the: Joyce Foundation Midwest Voices & Visions Award, the Artadia Award, The Swiss Benevolent Society, Lucerne, Switzerland, Residency and the 3Arts Teaching Artist Award. McDonald participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in July 2013. Most recently McDonald completed the DCASE residency where he began work on his most recent body of work Cuts and Beats, a project that montages performance photography from the floors of dance festivals and nightclubs with turn-of-the-century imagery from stage and theater advertisements, sheet music covers and celebrity portraiture.

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Portrait by Devina Yoestong

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