School Partnership for Art and Civic Engagement, also known as SPACE, is a program created to foster the creative, intellectual, and civic development of students.

Featured images

SPACE artist’s studio exterior at Curie Metro High School
Photo: Nathan Keay


What is SPACE?

The School Partnership for Art and Civic Engagement (SPACE) is the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s multiyear partnership with Chicago public high schools. Its goal is to empower Chicago teens to create positive change in their communities using contemporary art strategies and expanded civic understandings.

SPACE embeds artists and their studio practices inside Chicago public high schools, physically transforming space(s) in the school into creative hubs for artistic and civic exchange. We invite artists who address social issues and who embrace collaboration and public interaction to catalyze the learning in SPACE. Artists relocate their studio practice to the school for a long term, expanded residency, and work in partnership with the art and social studies teachers to codesign and coteach an interdisciplinary socially engaged curriculum.

Students investigate local community issues, identifying those that they are passionate about and that impact their lives directly. They work in groups, researching issues and engaging community members in dialogue. SPACE culminates in student-created artistic projects and civic-action plans that address the pressing needs of their community. In SPACE, youth take the lead as empowered change-agents with the confidence, knowledge, and ability to confront real-world issues.

Where is it located?

During the 2019–20 school year, the MCA is partnering with three SPACE schools on the Southwest and North sides: Curie Metropolitan High School (Archer Heights), Sarah E. Goode S.T.E.M. Academy (Ashburn), and Nicholas Senn High School (Edgewater).

Who is involved?

Andres Luis Hernandez, embedded artist
Daniel Jimenez, social studies teacher
Valerie Xanos, art teacher

Damon Locks, embedded artist
Andrew Breen, art teacher
Maria Scandariato, civics teacher

Miriam Dolnick, art teacher
Jenny Gran, art teacher
Mary Beth Hutchinson, social studies teacher
Joseph Lev, social studies teacher
Casey Murtaugh, art teacher
Donny Schiek, social studies teacher
Jesse Wyss, art teacher


Damon Locks leads a discussion around art and civic engagement during an MCA field trip
Photo: Nathan Keay

2017–18 project images

A large group of young people march down a sidewalk with two people holding a prominent sign that reads "The Time is Now."
As part of their final project, Curie students host a parade to the post office to mail 1,200 student-designed postcards on civic topics of their choosing, May 31, 2018
Photo: Braxton Black, © MCA Chicago
Nearly a dozen young people walking down a city sidewalk carry large postcards and a decorated flag of Mexico.
Curie parade to post office, May 31, 2018
Photo: Braxton Black, © MCA Chicago


Lead support for SPACE is provided by The Crown Family.

Additional generous support is provided by The Siragusa Family Foundation.