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.

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 2017–18 school year, the MCA has expanded to two SPACE schools on the Southwest Side: Curie Metropolitan High School (Archer Heights) and Sarah E. Goode S.T.E.M. Academy (Ashburn).

Who is involved?

Samantha Hill, Embedded Artist, Curie Metro High School: Hill is an artist/educator whose practice emphasizes archives, oral story collecting, and art facilitations. Her latest endeavor, the Kinship Project, is an African American ethnographic record of family photography and ephemera from 1839 to 2010. The goal of the Kinship Project is to collect personal stories, photography, and ephemera within each project city to discover how a city’s culture develops over time.

Daniel Jimenez, Social Studies teacher
Douglas Mann, Social Studies teacher
Sara Spachman, English teacher
Valerie Xanos, Art teacher

Damon Locks, Embedded Artist: Locks is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, vocalist/musician, and deejay. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he received his BFA in fine arts. Recently, he has been lending his artistic and/or teaching talents to organizations such as Prisons and Neighborhood Arts Project, Art Reach, the Center for Urban Pedagogy, and at UIC. This year, Locks was recognized as a 2017 Soros Justice Fellow.

Andrew Breen, Art teacher
Maria Scandariato, Civics teacher

Andres Luis Hernandez: Hernandez served as the Embedded Artist at Curie during the pilot year of SPACE, and has continued on as an advisor to the SPACE teams.

Samantha Hill with Curie High School students and the MCA Learning and Public Programs Committee, Mar 1, 2018. Photo: Braxton Black.


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


Lead support for SPACE is provided by The Crown Family.

Additional generous support is provided by The Siragusa Family Foundation.