Dreaming of a Future
Supporting Contemporary Art in Creating a Just World
Supporting Contemporary Art in Creating a Just World
Join Us in Building a Racially Just World
Threewalls, an evolving Blk feminist led-space, fosters contemporary art practices that respond to lived experiences, encouraging connections beyond art. As an arts non-profit in Chicago, Threewalls practices values that support our daily operations, guide our decisions, and ultimately, tells our community who are and how we move in the world. Threewalls provides support to artists, produces innovative programming, and creates a space for artists and creatives to thrive.
Our organization is an example of what is rarely done in the art and culture field: the dismantling of Whiteness as the foundation and fabric of the organization and building a new foundation that centers ALAANA perspectives, traditions and cultures. The foundation is built upon Black feminist traditions, which honor the breadth of lived experiences that includes intersectionality (how the intersections of race, gender and class impact one’s life). Our foundation also includes acknowledging that contemporary art is expansive, is more than Western or academic, and that it lives in Chicago’s neighborhoods. With this understanding, we reimagined the organization to be one that supports artistic practices that are rooted in the lived experiences of ALAANA artists. There are three primary ways we have done this: shifting our business model, listening to artists, and practicing racial equity as a way of being.
Being is an important tradition within the African Diaspora that grounds the culture at Threewalls. We practice being and living through our culture of care, which is the organizational culture of welcoming folks as they are, making room for joy and exchange, and not dismissing how the outside world impacts artists and creatives. After all, they are humans. And, as humans with an artistic outlook, Threewalls creates a culture of possibilities and imagining/imagination. This is one of the most important characteristics of Black being that guides a culture that is resilient in the face of White Supremacy.
We accomplish our mission through four prongs of our work: expanding notions of space, creating community accessibility, racial inclusivity, and valuing art|artmaking|artists|creative process. Further explanations below:
Space: we want to conceptually, physically and philosophically expand the discourse around contemporary art presentation and exhibition—from three walls to the fourth wall to breaking down the walls. This is where the itinerancy or mobility comes into play as our presentation model
Community accessibility: we want to present contemporary art in such a way that makes it accessible intellectually and physically in everyday life. Of the many ways to accomplish this, there are two ways that we are currently focused on:
Being itinerant and taking it to neighborhoods, community spaces, and places of work that makes the engagement with art a little more accessible
Including the audience in the process along the way, particularly from the very beginning of the research phase
Racial inclusivity: given that Chicago is comprised of 2/3 people of color, we are dedicated to the organization and its work reflecting a diverse Chicago, which means supporting more artists of color, recruiting staff and board members of color, and when we have people of color as part of the organization, providing leadership opportunities; and providing creative, critical and vendor opportunities.
With this, we are also committed with the itinerant model to being racially and ethnically inclusive when it comes to our audience, and this is an extremely important aspect of the model and working with artists and communities where they live and work
Value of art|artmaking|artist|creative process: we all know that contemporary art, whether visual, performing or other forms of art, is commodified in such a way that it distorts the deeper value of art. This model is challenging the commodity value—the monetary aspect—placed on art and expand its value beyond the monetary.
Additionally, this model centers artists, processes and people with the intention of demonstrating the impact of art on our daily lives and can expand discourse on our lives which are socially, politically and cultural nuanced.
Art connecting segregated communities, people, and experiences together.
Collaboration: We value the practice of collaboration with our nonprofit peers, artists, community leaders, and others who are inspired to use art as a catalyst for change. We believe that without true collaboration, real change thru the arts cannot happen.
Respect for Process: We believe that supporting process over time is integral to artistic and creative practices as well as relationship-building.
Risk: We are committed to providing an environment that embraces risk, with the understanding that this is where the most fruitful and successful art and relationships are borne.
Celebrating difference: We believe that it is our responsibility to reflect not only Chicago’s racial, ethnic and cultural diversity but our society at large. In this vein, we believe that racial and ethnic inclusivity in addition cultural equity are germane to our work.