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During the Summer of 2018, we asked teams to collaborate with us (July – September). See below project goals, guides for collaboration and guiding themes. 


Creative Grounds @ Anthony Overton served as the organizing platform to facilitate collaborative projects among Bronzeville/Southside and city-wide artists, architects, students and residents – the concept is to activate classrooms with original site-specific temporary projects exploring the intersections between art, design and architecture prompted by themes of PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE.

This project was developed between June – September 2018; through 3 public activations, open house style (June, July, August) teams met, workshopped and advanced their projects. These workshops offered the opportunity for community residents or visitors to learn about and join the different creative processes. These 3 activations aimed to be opportunities for participatory, hands-on activities that might contribute to the different projects. Finally, one last celebration for the season (September), a social gathering, to celebrate collectively the creativity and outcomes of these projects.


  • Explore specific themes using collaborative and participatory methods – collaboration is a key essential component of this exploration.

  • Encourage exchange of diversity of thought, knowledge, experiences, fields of practice, and methods that will be invaluable to producing work that can meaningfully engage history and contemporality.

  • Collectively reflect and spark imagination about the future of social infrastructure, entrepreneurship, technology, innovation and creativity in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods.


  • Teams should include at least an artist and architect to produce a visual interventions to each one of the existing classrooms – this coupling would be responsible to define collaboratively an artistic vision, process direction and participatory method(s).

  • Teams are highly encouraged to be INTERDISCIPLINARY – and integrate members from other fields of practice to enrich and celebrate diversity.

  • Teams are encouraged to be EMBEDDED: at least 50% of team members should reside or work within the community (Bronzeville of South Side neighborhoods).

  • Teams are encouraged to involve students from the community (Bronzeville or South Side neighborhoods).

  • Teams that do not meet this guideline will be encouraged to integrate in their project concept or process a stronger participatory component – how might one-time visitors or participants make, add or contribute with elements or content to your installation?

  • All interventions should be temporary and/or stand alone; projects should be removable and should not alter any of the walls, ceiling, windows, or floor material integrity (e.g. no nailing or drilling or painting directly on any element of the building).

  • Teams will be supported with project materials upon request.



Public Activations: 

Saturdays, 2-6pm @ Anthony Overton (221 E 49th St)

June 30

July 28

August 18

Community Celebration:

Saturday, September 22, 4-9pm

Registration at this link:

Public Activation Days are open house style and meant to be for on-site work, workshops and meet ups for participating teams. Everyone is welcome to visit, and participate with a team if they are interested/available.


2:00-2:45 -- ALL: welcome, introductions, building walk through, projects descriptions

2:45-3:00 -- ALL: break -- team/project break out -- grab a snack, meet your team/room

3:00-5:00 -- TEAM/PROJECT: project workshop 

5:00-5:30 -- TEAM/PROJECT: next steps / calendar / coordination 

5:30-6:00 -- ALL: teams presentations (share what you did / what are you going to do) / walk through different classrooms / breakdown.



We are seeking to leverage a few themes through this project, and would encourage all participants teams to explore any combination of or connections between each– they are simple and flexible prompts based on PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE. See below some examples:


  • Legacy of Anthony Overton as an African-American
    entrepreneur and business pioneer.

  • History and patterns of of development in Bronzeville or South Side community.

  • Architecture and design of former Overton elementary school by Perkins + Will (1963).


  • Stories from Overton (former students, parents, teachers).

  • Neighborhood mapping – including Overton’s projects (buildings) and enterprises.

  • Tracking and status of schools that closed in 2013.

  • Best practices for repurposing and transformation of neighborhood assets.

  • Awareness of relationship between quality of life and the built environment


  • Future of ......... in Chicago South Side neighborhoods:

    • social infrastructure and education – policies and practices.

    • innovation and creativity

    • entrepreneurship and technology



We are seeking for volunteer teams co-led by one artist and one architect (see above GUIDES FOR COLLABORATION). Interested teams please complete this online google form by Friday, July 20.

Do you need help finding a partner, a team, or collaborators?

We can give you a hand – mark your calendar for Thursday, July 19, 6-8pm for a meet + mix social @ Anthony Overton. Please register here.

Questions? Send us a message:



Anthony Overton Elementary School closed in 2013, and was purchased by the Washington Park Development Group in 2015. Designed and built by prominent local architects, Perkins & Will in 1963, Overton represents a modern and progressive approach to education reform and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.


Overton is in the process of being transformed into a business and technology incubation center. "It will offer entrepreneurs facilities training, amenities, and connections to other motivated individuals. The architecturally significant mid-century modern building is an anchor in the community and readily adapted to support new uses like offices, labs, a catering kitchen, a gymnasium, event room and performance stage."

Sources: The Chicago Reporter,  National Register of Historic Places Program, Pappageorge Haymes Partners




Anthony Overton (March 21, 1865 – July 2, 1946), a banker and pioneer manufacturer, was the first African American to lead a major business conglomerate. Overton established Hygienic in 1898 and produced baking powder, extracts, and toilet preparations. After moving the firm from Kansas to Chicago, he began to manufacture a full line of cosmetics and perfumes under the High-Brown Products label. He parlayed his early success with Hygienic into a highly diverse conglomerate, including The Great Northern Realty Company, The Chicago Bee, and the Victory Life Insurance Company. This was the first major conglomerate led by an African-American.

Source: Wikipedia



Alpha Bruton, Phantom Gallery Chicago Network */**

Anjulie Rao, AIA Chicago

Ciera McKissick, AMFM Life

Ghian Foreman, Washington Park Development Group*/**

Gibran Villalobos, Museum of Contemporary Art

Isis Ferguson, “UChicago Arts, Arts + Public Life*

Jennifer Park, Jurassic Studio

Lori Berko, UChicago Arts, Arts + Public Life*/**

Norman Teague, Blkhaus Studios*/**

Phil Cotton, Williams Preparatory School of Medicine**

Rachel Kaplan, Chicago Architecture Biennial

Scott Sikemma, Chicago Arts Partnership in Education

Tonika Lewis Johnson, Photographer*/** 

*Lives in Bronzeville or South Side / **Works in Bronzeville or South Side



Paola Aguirre

Ladipo Famodu

Valerie Wong

Jessica Moon

Nicolette Stosur-Bassett

Mauricio Casian

Ian Wong

Charlie Barlow

Daniel Ronan

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