SEEDS was designed to center city-wide conversations between two BIPOC communities. The inaugural program invited Dorian Sylvain of South Shore and Pablo Serrano of Pilsen to launch the project. The artists were also provided with the resources to invite eight additional members from their communities to be part of the initiative. Both Dorian and Pablo are esteemed muralists and community leaders in their neighborhoods. These artists were also chosen because of their existing relationships to CAD, and because the topics of concern from these communities overlapped. While there were loose expectations to meet over the course of three months and work towards a final presentaion, the artists were given full agency to identify the topics and ideas that mattered to them the most.

The conversations that happened were some of my proudest moments as a curator! The group focused on the remarkable parallels between two culturally rich but distinct communities. Despite being impacted by years of gentrification, marginalization, and pervasive redlining practices, migrants and immigrants still made their mark, expanding and contracting to shape their own stories and collective identities. This focus was ultimately the inspiration for their final presentation: a series of large-scale murals debuting in March of 2021. Additional programming included virtual and in-person artist talks, along with a virtual book discussion featuring Lesle Honore.

SEEDS came back in 2022 following the same model of pairing a Black and a Brown community, this time with Sam Kirk of Little Village and Alexie Young of North Lawndale as the leading artists, with eight more artists subsequently invited to be part of the project. The final presentation took the form of four hybrid mural benches that were the backdrop for a series of successful open mic events and ended up inspiring SEEDS’ current iteration.

The program is returning once more this year, evolving to include more than one exhibition between two neighborhoods, and establishing itself as a quarterly keystone event. SEEDS Healing Stages will bridge the performing and visual arts and further amplify direct support for visual artists, performers, storytellers and creative practitioners from across Chicago’s diverse BIPOC communities.

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