Nearly two dozen Chicago public schools have received free art collections since the start of the school year, thanks to a nonprofit organization dedicated to art in education.
The Chicago-based company IPaintMyMind wants to ensure that art is accessible to all students. So she created an “artistic subscription” program with the help of local artists and corporate partners.
“The Shared Walls program is what we call it where we rent art to clients and then use those funds to put galleries in schools,” said Evan La Ruffa, founder and executive director of IPaintMyMind. “We have been to all parts of the city. Over 70 community art exhibits across Chicago for the past five years.
The non-profit organization purchases collections from local artists to rent to these customers or hang in schools. They have developed a large collection which currently totals 1,300 prints. One such collection hangs in Fulton Galley, a food hall in the West Loop.
Together, the food hall and the nonprofit organized the walls with sneakers from local artist All Star Press. About 80% of the artists are local, including visual artist Grae Galindo Rosa. Rosa’s latest collection for the nonprofit can be seen hanging in the halls of Northwest Middle School. It is a Chicago version of the Mexican game Lotería.
Like the association, Rosa also wants to make all types of art accessible to students.
“Knowing that young people can see my art in their school and connect with it… I feel like that makes sense to me. It’s really important,” Rosa said.
“Having the artwork here, I will be able to bring my students to see it at their school instead of going to a gallery,” said Roxanne Piersanti, an art teacher at Northwest Middle School. “We’re going to create art based on the work they’ve seen here. Use it as inspiration to paint their room.
Teachers say they are grateful for these collections because they want to remind their students that forming opinions about art is an opportunity they deserve.
“It brings dignity to our school,” said Northwest Middle School principal Margaret Burne. “Our children are seen and they feel important because it’s here and it’s about them.”
With the goal of providing free collections to schools for at least four years, the nonprofit says it is eager to partner with people who want to be part of its “get art, get art, give art”.
“Bringing these art galleries to every CPS school over the next two years is something we would like to see,” La Ruffa said.
“And making sure our art collection reflects the communities we serve. For us, it’s really important that the dialogue around curation is something that happens with the partner or the client. That art isn’t an imposition, but really does fit into the fabric of the community in some way.
Schools also receive an arts curriculum to accompany the collection, as well as a workshop with the collection artist held at the end of the school year.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of DuPage Foundation Art correspondent.
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