This past Saturday, August 18, we held our final activation day for [8x3]: ART + ARCHITECTURE at the former Anthony Overton Elementary School. The teams that joined in the activation were at varying stages of progress, with some developing prototypes for new iterations, and others making sure progress on fabrication.
With the Chicago XL map in the parking lot, we managed to finish the key and labels to accompany the map, showing the names and status of the 43 closed schools in Chicago. We also continued highlighting and emphasizing the lines in the map that had been laid down during last year's Opening Closings exhibition.
In the tracking room, about half of the South Side neighborhoods had been fabricated and positioned around the classroom, and we continued to weave news articles over the neighborhood "tables", to reflect the history of the neighborhood and Anthony Overton, as well as news on school closures in 2013 and 2018.
The Carpet Creatures team, led by Could Be Architecture and Ladipo Famodu, used prototype materials to lay out their installation, creating an "inhabitable" game board without boundaries, for visitors and neighbors to inhabit and play.
The team from UrbanWorks arrived for their first activation day, and developed ideas for a project called Palimpsest. As a firm who is working on repurposing the former West Pullman Elementary School into affordable senior housing, their work is very relevant to the activations at Overton Elementary. They chose to occupy classroom 205, which has a row of windows that creates a direct visual connection to the corridor, which evokes Overton's past as a school with hallways full of children passing through daily. The word "palimpsest" refers to a place that has been altered, but that still leaves traces of its past, hence UrbanWorks plans to exhibit archives and artifacts from West Pullman in Overton, as the actual building is being renovated, in order to prevent erasure of West Pullman's past as an elementary school.
Most of the team from Techquity were able to attend Activation #3, and they too set up prototypes of their space, and developed further ideas on how the classroom could be divided and activated to evoke the past, present and future of Overton Elementary.
Finally, Julie Dervin completely redesigned her idea for the project Connecting Paths, which has turned into a pre-drawn maze on scale models of the seven states that Anthony Overton had lived in, that eventually fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
As summer comes to a close, so has our series of Activation Days in Overton Elementary. But don't fret! If you have an idea that is bursting to come to life, and are still interested in occupying a classroom from the ones still available, go to this link to fill out the form! Overton is still accessible any time until the final opening celebration of [8x3] ART + ARCHITECTURE.
Speaking of, on September 22, 4-9pm, we will open Overton's doors to the community in a public celebration of artists' and designers' work on display in classrooms as well as the school's longstanding presence as a valuable community asset, continuing its legacy well into the future. Join this celebration that will include Bronzeville's food, artists, and DJ Sadie Woods. We want this celebration to serve as an example of how other closed Chicago Public Schools serve as community beacons of life, art, and culture - even in their shuttered state.
We hope you had fun at our summer activations, and that you will continue to follow alongside Creative Grounds in our journey with Overton Elementary!
See you at the celebration of #AnthonyOvertonDay!