CAD works primarily with resident artists, who lead individual and group projects throughout their 12 month residencies. Beyond the residency program, we also offer learning programs for the public from time to time.


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. The exhibitions for theme-based programs typically show group exercises and individual projects, all in a variety of media.

SKILL-BASED PROGRAMS focus on technical explorations for the purpose of improving skills. Skill-based exhibitions typically showcase individual projects.


iPHONE THEREFORE iART (skill) was designed as a skill-based program led by Chicago artist Mike Nourse, which featuree ten local artists who met weekly, working towards a completed project in areas such as photo, digital sketching (finger painting), animation, sound, and video. In addition to local artists, CAD brought in national and international iPhone artists from as far away as Russia, Norway, Spain, France, and Germany. The end-result was  a comprehensive look at this digital tool and some of its artistic possibilities.

200 LINCOLNS (theme): CAD residents curated a group show, dedicated to one of America’s greatest presidents. For the exhibition, CAD’s gallery showcased 200 portraits of Abraham Lincoln, to celebrate his 200th birthday.

EXPLORING DIGITAL VIDEO THROUGH THE CANON GL2 (skill): This one day workshop is about learning how to use the Canon GL2 digital video camera. All of the features and functions of the camera will be covered and a few experienced videographers who have used the GL2 will be on hand to share their experiences with the camera. While geared towards GL2 users, some of the topics covered in this workshop of basic videography would be of interest to camera owners of all types.

HEROES (theme): If you have been a fan of such CAD classes as Art of Games and Street Studies, HEROES is our new theme-based class. Who are your heroes? Who are Chicago heroes? How do we define a hero? How do we represent and present our heroes in our art? Students will spend time with discussions, experimenting in various media, developing a final project and producing an exhibition for our December show. HEROES is open to artists of all backgrounds who are interested in exploring new media as well as making art with other artists.

MAKE AND SHOW WORKSHOP (skill): Need a quick art fix? In this new series of monthly workshops, a guest artist will create a project for you to make art and create an exhibition in one day. The Make and’ Show workshops is a fun way to meet interesting emerging Chicago artists while also learning and making art. Art from these workshops will be included in our monthly exhibitions.

CHICAGO ART DEPARTMENT MAG+ZINE (skill + theme): In an effort to increase opportunities for artists beyond our physical gallery space, we will be producing a monthly in-gallery magazine that accompanies each exhibition. People will be able to submit art and content to the magazine through a series of assignments that are available on our website. The theme of each issue coincides with the theme of that month’s exhibition.

Monthly: Wednesdays after 2nd Friday

DEATH & EXTINCTION (theme) : The Chicago Art Department take on New York City through the lense of a soon-to-be-extinct medium; the Polaroid  5 Chicago artists  travel to New York to work on a weekend polaroid project of their choosing alongside 5 New York artists, on the theme of “Death/Extinction”. Each artist was responsible for creating a work or series of work that will be exhibited at a show at the Chicago Art Department.

AUDIO OPERATORS DJ TEAM (skill): Audio Operators is a fun new course offered by the The Chicago Art Department which gives anyone who has ever been interested in being a professional DJ a chance to get some hands on experience. The course will be taught by The Afters Cool Society’s DJ Tapedek and will feature guest DJ’s as well as chances to perform at various events. All experience levels are welcome!

This first, pilot program class brought artists together to examine the phrase “Love It or Leave It”, create artwork based on that theme, and produce an exhibition. The class connected the themes of Love It or Leave It from a personal, family, city, nation and world perspective.

MAN VS. MACHINE (theme): addressed issues of humanity and technology in both a social as well as artistic context. Students explored art made “by hand”, art made by using technology, as well as art made with elements of both.

This program offered students the opportunity to explore and learn about the city of Chicago through artmaking. Students chose a street in Chicago and spent 15 weeks developing art with the street as the main subject.

ART OF GAMES (theme): Art of Games was about making art by playing games, using games, and about games. Partnered with Saint Xavier University, the program ended with exhibitions at both CAD and SXU.

GO-GO VIDEO (skill): A nuts and bolts video editing and production class, this class takes you through the tools, software, techniques, and concepts in editing video. Students can expect to edit a range of video from multi-camera event documentation, to narrative, as well as to more non-conventional or artistic approaches to video editing. Personal project development opportunities as well. Great for those who want to learn professional skills in a more stimulating, artistic environment.

:  An exploration of interMEDIA design – or collaborations between writing, painting, drawing, photography, even video, sound in the context of design. This class will examine the subject of interMEDIA, produce content, and ultimately collaboratively design a book prototype.

LIVE VISUALS (skill): 
An introduction to live visual production and performance. “Live visuals”, “visuals”, “vjing”, “projections” are some of the terms used to describe this exciting and still relatively new artform of performance-based video. You will learn the tools, content-creation strategies, performance, and installation issues around live visuals.

For drawers of all levels this class introduces you to a unique drawing and artistic experience. Drawing to music. Drawing uptempo. Drawing with people. Drawing games. Drawing with the eyes and ears. Unexpected art. Surprising art. Reactionary art. Ideal for those who are interested in creating art in a high-energy, social, and experimental environment.

SOUNDAMENTALS (skill): introduction to the basics of recording, manipulating, processing, editing, mixing and performing sound & music. This class will also explore the interactions between sound and other media such as video. A unique experience to work with active musicians and sound artists on the Chicago scene. Ideal for students interested in learning sound within a multimedia/collaborative environment.

MIX N’ SCRATCH (skill): The turntable is a powerful multi-faceted tool that has become far more than just a record player and our aim is to expose you to the potential you have with such a tool. Whether you want to spin records professionally, play in you bedroom, scratch, or use the turntable in completely unconventional ways altogether, this class will give you the know-how and the flexibility to accomplish that aspiration.

MOVEMENT STUDIES (skill+theme): 
An introduction to movement of the body as art. Students will be exposed to movement improvisation, contact improv, and composition, with an emphasis towards connections with other artistic media such as drawing, writing, music and video. The class offers “non-dancers” an introduction to movement, awareness of your body, and your body in space through expression. This class may also be of interest to experienced dancers who are interested in connecting dance with other artforms.