TRACE: Teens Re-Imagining Art, Community & Environment

2021 Programming

After a year of collaborating virtually, TRACE will resume in-person programming at Hamilton Park and Austin Town Hall for Summer 2021. We are also welcoming the inaugural cohort for the TRACE Community Curatorial Fellowship.

TRACE @ Hamilton Park will work in partnership with teaching artists and the Englewood community to produce two large murals on the facade of underutilized handball courts outside of Hamilton Park’s fieldhouse.

TRACE @ Austin Town Hall is partnering with alt_space Chicago and the Harambee Community Garden to learn skills as urban gardeners, explore natural elements which can be used to create art while designing and manufacturing a suite of modular benches which can be used by the garden’s volunteers.

With support from the Field and Terra Foundations, TRACE is proud to announce the TRACE Community Curatorial Fellowship. This unique program will focus on TRACE’s practice of mural making to nurture 8 teens over three years as community-minded creative placemakers using the visual arts. Each summer, Fellows will work alongside professional muralists to research aesthetic movements in muralism, explore the ethics and socio-economic impacts of public art in marginalized communities and produce 2-3 large scale murals in response to these inquiries in partnership with community stakeholders. The mission of this fellowship is to create a critical framework for teens interested in developing a social practice to build tangible skills, grow as collaborators and produce a portfolio of works which make them competitive for further education and employment opportunities in the field. 


2020 Programming

Spring 2020 Virtual Programming - IN THE CUT

Participants in TRACE’s Austin Town Hall spring programming worked with Lead Teaching Artists Jordan Campbell and Jon Veal of alt_space Chicago to produce and curate a series of digital exhibitions focusing on the experiences of teens during a time of forced isolation, collective trauma and uncharted opportunities for transformation. Curatorial website Sixty Inches from Center has partnered with TRACE as host for these digital exhibitions, expanding the reach and impact of this documentary work. The exhibitions will be augmented by an interview with Jordan Campbell and Jon Veal by TRACE founding artist Andres Hernandez exploring the nuances of facilitating In the Cut, centering the voices of teens during this time and how covid-19 has shifted their teaching artists practices.

Summer 2020 Virtual Programming: Culture/Shift

This summer, TRACE continued its work centering the voices of teens during a time of great transition and upheaval through a multimedia digital exhibition presented on web-based art publication Sixty Inches from Center. 

Building on the dynamic work of In the Cut, a digital exhibition documenting lived experiences of teens during the covid-19 global pandemic, this exhibition will explore the continued uncertainty facing young people due to the pandemic alongside societal tensions manifesting in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of law enforcement. 

Both TRACE locations (Austin Town/Hamilton Park) were activated virtually with their own mediums of creation and curation. The Austin Town Hall cohort focused on visual media, training teens in the skills of photography, art history and creative placemaking. The Hamilton Park cohort focused on practices of introspection such as writing, altermaking, family histories and collage making in their curatorial process. 

Each location will be co-presented in a forthcoming digital exhibition on Sixty Inches from Center set for publication in October (Check back for link when complete).

Fall 2020 Virtual Programming

TRACE’s Hamilton Park and Austin Town Hall locations will run virtually as After School Matters programs this fall. Teaching artists Jon Veal and Jordan Campbell of alt_Chicago will lead the Austin Town Hall cohort, Alexandria Eregbu and Zakkiyyah Najeebah will lead the Hamilton Park cohort. Teens will conduct research on art history and social movements while creating their own curatorial projects.


2019 Programming

Fall programming for TRACE @ Austin Town Hall partners teens with photographer and Lead Teaching Artist Nicole Harrison to produce a multimedia exhibition elevating the staff, patrons and surrounding community of Austin Town Hall. Through refining their photographic and fieldwork skills, TRACErs will curate a series of portraits and texts highlighting this vibrant cultural hub on Chicago’s westside. The opening reception for the exhibition will be held at the Chicago Public Library’s Austin Branch (5615 W. Race Ave.) Saturday, December 7th @ 2pm.

Fall programming for TRACE @ Hamilton Park Cultural Center partners teens with Lead Teaching Artist Concitta Cavin to produce two projects:

  • A mural inspired by beloved former Hamilton Park counselor Calvin Seay, who was murdered on his way to work during the summer of 2019 in collaboration with artist Gloria I. Rivera.
  • A culminating teen convening that invites youth from across the city to explore the impacts of and solutions to gun violence on the south and west sides. This event, titled TO THE FULLEST: Growing, Embracing, and Evolving will be held at Hamilton Park (513 W. 72nd St.) Friday, December 6th, 5pm-8pm


2018 Programming

2018 marked the 10th anniversary of TRACE working within the Chicago Park District to bring teens together with some of Chicago’s most dynamic creative activists and educators. In celebration of this milestone, we launched an ambitious programming initiative bringing the organic, thoughtful evolution of TRACE full-circle using art and activism to look back on the journey while also creating dynamic new futures. Using our community curatorial toolkit, TRACE produced a series of artifacts and exhibitions throughout the year highlighting TRACE’s strategies for empowering teens as critical thinkers, collaborators and creative activists.

During the spring, TRACE partnered with Grow Greater Englewood (GGE) and Candor Arts Publishing to produce a community “art/cookbook” highlighting culinary and agrarian traditions alongside environmental activism on Chicago’s southside. TRACErs collaborated with co-Lead Teaching Artists Concitta Cavin and Zakkiyyah Najeebah to compose, design, and edit what will become a limited edition hardbound book. Programming was supplemented by workshops and field trips exploring issues of aesthetics, authorship, and representation within the literary canon and contemporary media.

Summer ‘18 programming engaged TRACErs by creating a collaborative art project exploring TRACE’s history as a teen arts organization over the past 10 years. Our network of alumni, guest artists, teaching artists and leadership were invited to bring in artwork, images and other ephemera from over the years to engage with current TRACErs through a series of “archiving days”, where teens scanned/photographed/catalogued those materials in addition to recording oral histories of those involved with the program. TRACErs also participated in a mural project in partnership with GGE underneath the Englewood Line at 58th & Halsted ( Programming culminated with a 10th Anniversary Gala & Exhibition held in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Commons August 17th.

Fall programming partnered TRACErs with Englewood-based designer Eric Hotchkiss to repurpose a non-functioning aquaponics system in our offices at Hamilton Park into a “healing space” incorporating creative and natural self-care design principles. 2018 programming culminated with a charette about perceptions of Chicago’s south and west sides facilitated by photographer and activist Tonika Johnson at Nichols Tower on December 11th.

In October TRACE launched the TRACE Community Curatorial Fellowship (TCCF). This dynamic program invited five veteran TRACErs for a one-week intensive in New York City to take part in a series of scholarly explorations and cultural excavations that disrupt traditional notions of what knowledge is valuable, who should be the authors of that knowledge, and how that knowledge is preserved and disseminated. Fellows will work with professional mentors over several months to translate this experience into accessible scholarship that will shared during a series of “show and tells” during the summer of 2019.


About TRACE: 

TRACE is a jobs-focused, teen leadership program run by the Chicago Park District’s Division of Culture, Arts and Nature. TRACE promotes civic engagement and strives to cultivate creative, environmental and community-based youth activists. Using the arts to engage, inspire and persist, TRACErs create, advocate and enact change for a better world.
TRACE is generously supported by the Chicago Park District, After School Matters, School of the Art Institute, Fay Slover Fund, Field Foundation, and Grow Greater Englewood. 


Check out the TRACE PHOTO GALLERY here.