About CAD

Mission Statement: Chicago Art Department (CAD) cultivates new and emerging Chicago artists. A 501c3 not-for-profit organization, the foundation of what we do at CAD is a 12-month residency program for 20 artists.

Here are CAD’s residency goals:

1) to develop studio practice and new works
2) to participate in exhibitions as exhibiting artists (with new works)  or curators
3) to engage in monthly critical dialogues around resident works, and connections with visitors from the field
4) to support workshops, courses, CAD’s monthly critical dialogue series, or CAD’w ongoing partnership with Perspectives Charter School
5) to support CAD by identifying and taking on a CAD operations task as part of the 12-month residency

Founded in 2004 by three college instructors, CAD aims to benefit artists by exploring art and learning. Through exhibitions, artist residencies,  classes/workshops,  and community building, we are dedicated to cultivating new voices, ideas, and practices in contemporary art. CAD seeks to serve the real-world needs of young artists seeking to establish their personal practice, as well as provide a breeding ground of creative collaboration and exploration. What does this mean? It’s ongoing arts explorations. Shows, classes, events, workshops, and interaction with Chicago arts enthusiasts – all designed by our resident artists and their goals. 

CAD is housed on South Halsted in Pilsen, at 1932 South Halsted inside of the historic Fountainhead building. CAD has roughly 7000 square feet of studio, exhibition, and event space, used in many different ways by our artists and audience. CAD hosts an eclectic calendar of shows every month, and sometimes resident artists work with other organization to host cultural events such professional development workshops, exhibitions, or even fundraisers.. The hosting of outside events is part of an explicit CAD goal to support larger Chicago artists and organizations, while connecting CAD resident artists to others in the field.

In addition to all of the above, resident artists are required to attend monthly “CD” (critical dialogue) meetings, to present their practice for feedback from other resident as well as visiting artists. CAD resident artists pay monthly fees (subsidized by Chicago Art Department’s fundraising initiatives) for 24/7 access to individual studio areas,  shared printing and wood-shop spaces,  two separate gallery spaces, a network of 20 peer resident artists, and a larger public CAD audience of thousands. 

Arts Learning and Growth

Our resident artists sometimes offer learning programs in the forms of workshops and courses. Most recently our resident artists have been offering screen-printing (Tyler Deal  and letterpress (Kent Henderson) learning opportunities. Separate from these, our artists support an ongoing partnership to teach students at Perspectives Charter School. In addition to these programs, CAD resident artists work with MacArthur Foundation to create design and video work in support of their Digital Youth Network (this project led by Nat Soti).

We as our community to “Try It!” CAD is built around the idea of learning through participation.  Resident Artists are encouraged to participate in as many ways as possible. Resident artists have 24-hour access and often learn from bouncing ideas off of each other, while also leading and participating in programs that are extensions of their practice.

We ask our community to “Make It!” An important part of our residencies, programs, and critical dialogue groups is to make! To push to create, and to strive to finish new works.

We ask our community to “Share it!” Chicago Art Department produces exhibitions, programs, and events to in order to provide regular opportunities for artists share work.  CAD will often work with other groups and organizations to host events for a variety of art practices and social issues. Beyond the physical space, CAD also provides exhibition opportunities in some non-traditional ways such as on the web, print, and video, All of these opportunities aim to connect  artists with  audiences of many kinds.