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.
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.