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

Students from Curie Metro High School visit the MCA with their art teacher, Valerie Xanos. Image courtesy of Valerie Xanos.

What Is SPACE?

This multiyear creative residency places an artist, and their studio, in a Chicago public high school to transform the school space(s) into a site for artistic and civic exchange.

The artist and a core team of art and civics teachers design a new contemporary art-based, civic engagement curriculum taught in both courses.

Through this new curriculum, students use contemporary art strategies to take action in response to local issues, engaging the larger student body and community members in the process.


Students participate in SPACE’s final project, Sanctuary Festival, May 17, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Curie Blog Excerpt:
SPACE Visits the MCA

GAC Modes of Inquiry

Curation, Space, Interaction & Responsibility

We focused on how artists and museums curate their work. Thinking about issues like:

What is the message from the artist and/or curator? How did the artist and curator present the work for the strongest connection to the viewers? What other artworks are nearby and how do they interact? How is the work displayed and how does this affect the viewer? How does the museum space interact with the artwork? How is the viewer involved in interacting with the work? How can other viewers around you affect your experience when looking at an artwork? What is the artist's responsibility when expressing controversial or questionable topics/issues? What is present or not present in an artwork that affects us? How can these exhibits help us understand how to curate our own body of work? How do these artworks connect to our themes? The GAC visited the MCA, hosted by artist guides who brought our students into deep discussion over their experiences viewing the artwork in "Witness". Focusing on Alfredo Jaar's The Sound of Silence, the GAC considered how artists address our modes of inquiry in their work. Jaar's piece was extremely powerful, using text and space to deliver it's complicated and open message about the Kevin Carter narrative. This work was discussed in juxtaposition with other works such as Dahwoud Bey's The Birmingham Project and Andres Serrano's Knifed to Death I and II.

Students also visited The Making of a Fugitive and Diana Thater's theatrical Sympathetic Imagination, exploring these exhibits on their own.

Curie Blog Excerpt:
Redactive Poem

One of the things that makes the GA Collective so special is our contemporary approach to art making. We enjoy an interdisciplinary process that allows us to create a body of work from different positions and using different disciplines.

Andres introduced the redactive technique as a method to transform the collective poem into an individual one. These works are personal to each student.

The visual power of the redactive mark speaks to concepts of power, knowledge, and communication. In the hands of the government, we think of censorship. In the hands of the students, we think of choice.


Lead support for SPACE is provided by The Crown Family.

Major support is provided by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Additional generous support is provided by The Siragusa Family Foundation.