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Chicago Public Art Group

The Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG) unites communities and artists in creating high quality public art. They produce mosaics, murals, sculptures, seating installations, banners, and space designs. Their skilled, professional artists specialize in collaborating with community participants to make delightful, meaningful, permanent, and safe public artworks.

CPAG partners with community development organizations, neighborhood groups, social service agencies, advocacy groups, and schools to design projects to realize their social, cultural, educational, and aesthetic goals. CPAG artist consultants participate in planning processes for public spaces with architects, landscape designers, and municipal planners. www.cpag.net

Echoes of the Heart

One of their projects, Echoes of the Heart, sought to examine and improve neighborhood race relations in a Chicago neighborhood. The project consisted of a series of ten banners made in 1993 with a group of residents from Chicago’s southwest side, an area surrounding Marquette Park, nationally infamous as the place where residents threw rocks at Martin Luther King. Adults, teens, and children worked with artist/facilitator Olivia Gude to generate the themes, images, and text that together presented a dynamic portrait of the complex social relations of the area. The project arose from the community, with the Southwest Catholic Cluster Project, an antiracism group, providing leadership

A multiracial discussion group agreed to come together to try to speak frankly about race and the neighborhood. Participants shared stories of anger, grief, fear, and embarrassment, and analyzed structures of language and politics, as they sought to find a practical basis for fulfilling spiritual commitments to break down barriers of racial difference. Because of its extensive community-based mural work, the Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG) was invited to participate in a gathering on community, culture, spirituality, and race.

Apparent within the dialogues was how subjectivity changes over time. People present themselves not as standard historical types, but as human beings whose thoughts and reactions shift according to accumulated experience. The Catholic Cluster provided a structure through which the banners could be shown at various community sites and thus become incorporated into an ongoing dialogue.

Don’t miss CPAG’s Community Public Art Guide: Making Murals, Mosaics, Sculptures, and Spaces at www.cpag.net/guide/index.htm. CPAG boasts that this is the most comprehensive manual for making public artworks through collaboration with community that has ever been produced. This site represents the collective experience of dozens of dedicated community public artists, working on hundreds of projects, with thousands of participants.

Jon Pounds, Executive Director, jonpounds@cpag.net

In partnership with the Animating Democracy Initiative of Americans for the Arts (www.americansforthearts.org/animatingdemocracy/), NCDD’s Leah Lamb researched arts-based civic dialogue programs in order to help dialogue & deliberation practitioners strengthen their work by linking it to the arts. NCDD hopes these resources will inspire you, and encourages you to connect with the artists, many of whom are interested in working with D&D practitioners.

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