About CAD

Mission Statement: TRY IT, MAKE IT, SHARE IT.

The Chicago Art Department (CAD) cultivates new and emerging Chicago artists.

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. We invite you to attend one of our shows or sit-in on a class! Drop by the studio during studio times (posted on our google calendar, found on CAD’s home page), or reach out to a coordinator about a potential partnership.

If you are interested in flexing your skills, learning something new, establishing a studio space, participating in exhibitions, showing and potentially selling your art,  developing  yourself as an artist and meeting/collaborating with other Chicago artists, you should consider visiting  CAD’s gallery on South Halsted or studio on West Hubbard!


Arts Learning and  Development

The Chicago Art Department offers different types of arts learning opportunities, all aimed at artistic and professional growth. CAD aims for all of our programs to be accessible for local artists, meaning while each program carries different costs, fees are often minimal if not free. We are able to provide such opportunities because of  fund raising efforts, grants, and ongoing support from those involved.

Try It!

PARTICIPATORY LEARNING even when formal classes are not happening, CAD is built around the idea of learning through participation.  Members are encouraged to participate in as many of our opportunities as possible. Resident artists have 24-hour access to our locations and often learn from bouncing ideas off of each other, while also leading and participating in programs. Meanwhile CAD coordinators help run the show, developing valuable skills around organizational operations while helping move CAD’s mission forward. Everyone grows from doing!

Make It!

STUDIO SPACE We have a NEW dedicated studio space located in West Town, called CAD WEST. This location is available for CAD residents interested in studio practice, and is also used for classes and workshops.

THEME-BASED PROGRAMS are intermedia-based programs leading participants through a process of learning and working in a variety of media, with the goal of producing a theme-based exhibition. Here artists explore concept as much as possible, while developing solid formal solutions, working towards a finished piece or series of art. The exhibitions for theme-based programs typically show group exercises and individual projects, all in a variety of media. (ex. Love it or Leave it, Street Studies, Art of Games )

SKILL-BASED PROGRAMS focus on technical explorations for the purpose of improving skills. Skill-based exhibitions typically showcase individual projects inside of an exhiibtion, however sometimes these programs are simply more focused on improving skill sets. (ex. Go-Go Video, Live Visuals, WordPress for the Artist)

Share it!

EXHIBITIONS & OUTREACH The Chicago Art Department produces exhibitions, programs, and events to in order to provide regular opportunities for artists to make and 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 opportunites aim to connect Chicago artists with Chicago art audiences and beyond.