SAIC Collaboration & Drake Elementary School

Project Overview

CPS Lives podcast tells the story of Drake Elementary School in Bronzeville, Chicago, featuring the voices of students and teachers. Specifically, the podcast centers the development of Dolls for Peace, a community art therapy project spearheaded by artist and educator Rochele Royster. Dolls for Peace creates a safe space to address the traumatization caused by gun violence by inviting community members to make a doll for each person killed as a result of gun violence. The podcast documents the development of the Dolls for Peace project and investigates how the need for such a project emerged in Drake Elementary, in Chicago, and in the U.S. The podcast will be about 30 minutes in length and, for now, exist as a single episode. Interviews will be collected and edited by myself, Efrat Hakimi and Larisa Wade — 3 graduate students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Meet the Artist

Private: Katie Wood

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Meet the Artist

Private: Larisa Wade

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Dorian Sylvain & Dolittle Elementary School

Project Overview

Many of the corridors at this school are plain and uninspired. As I toured the school with Ms. Macbeth, we identified a 150’ corridor that we would re-design with colors and images of the current student population. During this process my intention is to expand students visual literacy and development of art language. Through design sessions, students will be engaged in thoughtful skill building activities and create an art expression for their school that they can be proud of. 

On January 24 I meet with my team of students. We talked about themes, design ideas and and how art can change the feeling of a space. The students took rough measurements of the hallway, using the 12” tiles on the floor. 

We will meet again on Thursday, February 21, to create a design board, filled with pictures, color swatches, a ground plan, images of students and other ideas from the internet. From this discussion I will create a more specific plan of action. The base painting will begin the second week of March. 

Meet the Artist

Dorian Sylvain

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Dorian Sylvain is a painter, an interpreter of color; exploring color as it influences her feelings, enhances texture and pattern and how it can be used to exploit imagery. Ms. Sylvain’s painting has crossed many disciplines; studio painting, scenic design, mural painting, decorative arts, education, curation and community planning. For the past three decades she has been committed to the creation of public art projects that expose children and communities to art making, providing a group experience that elevates the neighborhoods aesthetic understanding. Recently awarded “Arts & Culture: Connecting Communities to the Arts” (2013) from the University of Chicago and the South East Commission, recognizing her outstanding work and committed service. In addition, her Decorative Arts Studio has been creating largescale custom painted walls and canvas’ for private clients for over twenty years.

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Dorian Sylvain is a painter, an interpreter of color; exploring color as it influences her feelings, enhances texture and pattern and how it can be used to exploit imagery. Ms. Sylvain’s painting has crossed many disciplines; studio painting, scenic design, mural painting, decorative arts, education, curation and community planning. For the past three decades she has been committed to the creation of public art projects that expose children and communities to art making, providing a group experience that elevates the neighborhoods aesthetic understanding. Recently awarded “Arts & Culture: Connecting Communities to the Arts” (2013) from the University of Chicago and the South East Commission, recognizing her outstanding work and committed service. In addition, her Decorative Arts Studio has been creating largescale custom painted walls and canvas’ for private clients for over twenty years.

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Portrait by Devina Yoestong

Jay Wolke & Dolittle Elementary School

“I’m committed to creating community through shared, visual language and the impact it has on our common interests,” – Jay Wolke, Artist.

Project Overview

My project involves the ideation and production of “Schoolrooms”, distilling intrinsic, semiotic characteristics of entire schools into single, immersive installations. I am now working in James R Doolittle Elementary School and Gary Comer High School, using mobile scanning devices to record all manner of environmental surfaces and objects. My intention is to create installations, comprised of visual references from an entire school and then condensing those elements into a single room, measuring approximately 8’x8’x12’– an analogue to the overwhelming school experience and the intrinsic character of each individual school. Accompanying the visual environment will be an audio track of various voices, sounds, lectures, shows, etc. The “Schoolroom” projects will embody many of the aesthetic and content goals I aspire to and will initiate a primary dialogue with public audiences, across the city. I’m committed to creating community through shared, visual language and the impact it has on our common interests.

Meet the Artist

Jay Wolke

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Jay Wolke is an artist and educator living in Chicago Illinois. He is the author of: All Around the House: Photographs of American-Jewish Communal Life, 1998; Along the Divide: Photographs of the Dan Ryan Expressway, 2004 and Architecture of Resignation: Photographs from the Mezzogiorno, 2011. His fourth monograph: Same Dream Another Time: Photographs from Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City will be released in July 2017. His works have been exhibited internationally and are in the permanent print collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco MOMA, among others. From 1992-1999 he was Coordinator of Graduate Documentary Photography at the Institute of Design, IIT. In 1999-2000 he served as Head of Art and Graduate Studies at Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy. He is currently a Professor of Photography at Columbia College where he was Chair of the Art and Design Department from 2000-2005 and again from 2008-2013.

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Jay Wolke is an artist and educator living in Chicago Illinois. He is the author of: All Around the House: Photographs of American-Jewish Communal Life, 1998; Along the Divide: Photographs of the Dan Ryan Expressway, 2004 and Architecture of Resignation: Photographs from the Mezzogiorno, 2011. His fourth monograph: Same Dream Another Time: Photographs from Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City will be released in July 2017. His works have been exhibited internationally and are in the permanent print collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco MOMA, among others. From 1992-1999 he was Coordinator of Graduate Documentary Photography at the Institute of Design, IIT. In 1999-2000 he served as Head of Art and Graduate Studies at Studio Art Centers International, Florence, Italy. He is currently a Professor of Photography at Columbia College where he was Chair of the Art and Design Department from 2000-2005 and again from 2008-2013.

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Portrait by Devina Yoestong

Marzena Abrahamik & Young Women’s Leadership Charter School

Project Overview

Noplace and Somewhere, is an ongoing collaboration with Chicago Public High Schools’ students as extracurricular programming to support schools with depleting arts education. I started photographing at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Douglas, a school that closed in the Spring of 2019 and have continued the collaboration with Michele Clark Academic Magnet High School students in Austin. The project includes students in a reciprocal relationship exploring photography’s role in social reform. I am interested in the alienation that students feel from their neighborhoods as they spend the majority of their day somewhere else. 

As an artist my intention is to preserve the student’s autonomy while underlining their self-discovery and their strengths. The final photograph is spontaneous, meditated in the moment, and aims to situate my sitter within their own psychologies. The young women are photographed within the school’s environment and choose whether they would like to remain in uniform or pose in their favorite clothes. We work together on the pose and location in order to arrive together at the final image. Each photograph resonates with the tension between the woman as student, and woman as an individual. 

While I am collaborating on the making of the photograph with the students, I ask them to think about how they would like to be seen and what they would like the photograph to feel like. I give them short and simple technical lessons on how to make a photograph. What does it mean for the subject of the photograph to look into the camera and how looking away from the camera allows for a narrative to emerge. I also answer questions on what it is like being an artist and how to become one. Helping empower students with the necessary tools in creating their own platform for sharing thoughts, emotions, and voices also empowers me as an individual . 

My goal is to be additional support for the students I have been working with by exchanging necessary development advice as well as their input in completing Noplace and Somewhere, a project that begun with my love as a mother and my passion and devotion as teacher. As an artist and professor at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, I draw from my personal academic and institutional background. My educational history follows pathways from public schools to university graduates, recycling first hand experiences to inform my practice as professor within art institutions and city wide community colleges. 

Since I became a mother in 2017, I have been rethinking ways I can make a difference in my Chicago community, hence I began photographing young women at Chicago Public Schools. I plan to keep photographing while keeping in mind the themes of education, community and youth. An exhibition at gallery 062 in the fall of 2020 will create a space where this unusual archive, that is guided by the collaborative nature of the image making with also allow students and parents to further connect. This exhibition will be the next step to extend the community, engage students through trips to the gallery, setup encounters with artwork that directly reflects their experience. 

My goals are to further engage my students with publishing a book of this artist lead archive. The photographs will be accompanied with the students’ stories, essays, and photographs. With this book we will negotiate the politics of alienation and the critical dialogue it establishes with the history of Chicago and dominant feminist identity discourses. 

 

Meet the Artist

Marzena Abrahamik

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Marzena Abrahamik received her BA from Loyola University in 2002 and her MFA from Yale University in 2013. Her recent solo exhibitions include presentations at Johalla Projects, Chicago (2017, 2015), the Gallery of Classic Photography, Moscow (2013), and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Boone, North Carolina (2012). Group exhibition highlights include the Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh (2016), Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Chicago (2016), Soccer Club Club, Chicago (2016), Sushi Bar, New York (2014), the International Photography Festival, Tel-Aviv (2014), and Aperture, New York (2013). Her work is included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and Haas Family Art Library at Yale University. Her work can currently be seen in the Whitney Houston Biennial in New York.

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Marzena Abrahamik received her BA from Loyola University in 2002 and her MFA from Yale University in 2013. Her recent solo exhibitions include presentations at Johalla Projects, Chicago (2017, 2015), the Gallery of Classic Photography, Moscow (2013), and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Boone, North Carolina (2012). Group exhibition highlights include the Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh (2016), Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Chicago (2016), Soccer Club Club, Chicago (2016), Sushi Bar, New York (2014), the International Photography Festival, Tel-Aviv (2014), and Aperture, New York (2013). Her work is included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and Haas Family Art Library at Yale University. Her work can currently be seen in the Whitney Houston Biennial in New York.

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Portrait by Devina Yoestong

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