YCS Fellowship, Hector Duarte's Studio, 2018

2021 Programming

In the Spring and Summer of 2021, ArtSeed & Young Cultural Stewards is partnering with Marwen on an initiative called Teaching Artist Mutual Aid, funded by The Field Foundation. 

Teaching Artist Mutual Aid is an intentional community of learning and care invested in and co-created by Chicago’s BIPOC & LGBTQIA+ teaching artists. Building on the principles of emergent strategy, Chicago Park District’s and Marwen’s teaching artists will build relationships with each other, urban gardeners, community organizers, and participate in the reciprocal practice of mutual aid. After a month of hands-on community care work, teaching artists will collaboratively develop an emergent curriculum which will be the foundation for summer youth programming in Chicago parks and gardens. 

ArtSeed and YCS will be facilitating Pop-Up programming in Chicago Park District parks and community gardens on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays July 5th - August 13th. We’ll also be working with digital media artist Ireashia Bennett to produce a documentary film telling the story of Mutual Aid in our parks and gardens. A final curriculum and documentary film screening will be shared virtually in October, 2021. 


2020 Programming

ArtSeed & Young Cultural Stewards - Fall 2020 

This fall ArtSeed and Young Cultural Stewards are presenting two innovative virtual programs to engage youth, families, and communities. The first is Young Cultural Producers which is a creative incubator for youth thought and ingenuity placed into motion. Young Cultural Producers will launch a podcast featuring such topics as: healing through hip hop, Queering the Parks, storytime, and YCS En Espanol. In addition, we’re piloting a new virtual program called “small is all” inspired by the work of writer, pleasure activist, and organizer adrienne maree brown. This series will feature ecological artists as well as inspiration from our more-than-human siblings; flora, fauna, and natural environments. Youth will be invited to create ecological art responding to weekly prompts and creative invitations.

ArtSeed & Young Cultural Stewards - Summer 2020 

This summer ArtSeed and Young Cultural Stewards are teaming up to provide socially distant creative workshops across 20 parks and 5 community gardens while exploring our program theme, Reparations for the Earth. Young people will be working with highly trained teaching artists whose backgrounds include visual art, performance, hip-hop, theater, yoga, meditation, reiki, and special education. All curriculum and facilitation emerge from our ArtSeed and YCS community values: centering youth voice, safety and wellness, silliness, transparent communication, shared accountability, and moving at the speed of trust. 

Reparations for the Earth 

Reparations for the Earth builds on prior ArtSeed and YCS collaborations including: The Art of Flocking (2018) which incorporated adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy as platform for addressing biomimicry with youth; and Re-Imagining Belonging (2019) a partnership with Chicago-based artist and activist Tonika Johnson exploring the impacts of structural racism and segregation on young people and their access to the elements: earth, air, water, fire, and spirit. 

Reparations for the Earth asks: how do we transform the harm humans have inflicted on our planet? ArtSeed and YCS will explore this question by collaborating with community gardeners and environmental justice organizers including American Indian Center at the First Nations Garden in Albany Park, The Breathing Room Space in Back of the Yards, Earl’s Garden and Mae’s Kitchen in Englewood, South Merrill Community Garden in South Shore, and Urban Grower’s Collective in East Chicago. Young people will work alongside gardeners, teaching artists, and community organizers to create art that uses recycled and upcycled materials, invest in community-driven urban agriculture, and practice creating a world in which all living beings have access to safety, dignity, and joy. 


2019 Programming

The Young Cultural Steward Fellowship is expanding in 2019 to support the development of a Youth Leadership Council known as the YCS Creative Core. This group of 15 YCS alumni representing Willye White, Piotrowski, and Tuley Parks will participate in a six-week leadership training focused on creative youth development, healing justice, and cultural stewardship. YCS Creative Core members will build community among themselves while exploring a variety of cultural and community organizations across Chicago including Kuumba Lynx, Chicago Freedom School, #LetUsBreathe Collective, Yollocalli, and MCA’s Teen Creative Agency. The spring YCS session will culminate in a youth curated, produced, and facilitated Creative Core Summit on May 11, 2019. The Summit will be a reflection of youth-driven programming and community interventions with special guests including community-based artists, activists, and cultural workers from across Chicago. The Summit will also be an opportunity for youth outside the Creative Core to register for YCS summer camps. 

YCS’s 2019 summer camp will be a partnership with Chicago-based artist Tonika Johnson and Chicago Park District’s ArtSeed, TRACE, and Inferno programs to expand Tonika’s Folded Map project across 100 Chicago parks and neighborhoods. This large scale collaboration entitled Belonging will reflect the interconnectedness of Chicago youth by mapping spaces of memory, connection, critical analysis, and solidarity across a hyper-segregated city. YCS summer programming will culminate in a city-wide exhibition and public programming series highlighting art, media, and community interventions created by YCS, ArtSeed, TRACE, and Inferno youth, reflecting their exploration of Chicago’s historic divisions, collaborations, and opportunities for community transformation. 


2018 Programming

The Art of Flocking - Summer 2018

In 2018, The Art of Flocking: Cultural Stewardship in the Parks celebrated Chicago’s community-based art practice nurtured within the Chicago Park District. This public programming and community exhibition series explored the legacies of Mexican-American muralist and public artist, Hector Duarte, and Sapphire and Crystals, Chicago’s first and longest standing Black women’s artist collective. The initiative built on two beloved programs: ArtSeed, which engages children ages 3+ and families in 18 parks and playgrounds, and Young Cultural Stewards, a multimedia program aimed at youth ages 12-14 with hubs in each of Chicago’s three geographic regions.

The Art of Flocking engaged over 2,500 participants with Chicago’s community-based art history and legacy through the lens of artists whose practices are rooted in public space and community engagement. 216 public programs were hosted at 18 parks and a community exhibition series was held August 1-3rd at Willye White Park in Rogers Park, Piotrowski Park in Little Village, and Tuley Park in Chatham.

The Art of Flocking culminated in a celebration at La Ronda Parakata, one of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor Gathering Spaces. This event was held on August 11, 2018 from 12-3pm, featuring youth art and community activation.



Check out the Young Cultural Stewards Fellows PHOTO GALLERY here.