Chicago: De-centered

Chicago’s sensational skyline and cultural institutions, its river that famously was engineered to run backwards, and its iconic elevated trains are recognized around the world. But the lifeblood of the city flows from its neighborhoods. Neighborhoods have nurtured diverse people, social movements, economic eras, and arts such as Chicago blues, slam poetry, improv, storefront theater, and literature.

Our EPIC2023 home at the Institute of Design at Illinois Tech is Bronzeville, the center of Chicago’s African-American history on the city’s South Side. During the Great Migration, African Americans left the segregated American South for Chicago. But conditions in Chicago were still brutally segregated, and Bronzeville residents built a ‘Black Metropolis’:

“a city within a city that provided all of the essentials for day-to-day living and put Black Chicago on the map. Commerce flourished, jobs were abundant, and innovations in music, literature, theater and beyond attracted people from across Chicago and defined America. They gave rise to a Black Arts Movement, created gospel and electrified blues, built hundreds of businesses, and created a political base that eventually would give birth to the nation’s first Black president.” (read more)

Chicago’s vibrant contemporary cultural scene was born of fundamental frictions. There have been betrayal, slaughter and removal of the Indigenous nations; wretched working conditions that led to the Haymarket Riots and the meat-packing industry exposé The Jungle; the notorious racism and segregation which continue to be a source of poverty and inequity; and the endemic and audacious political corruption that is often associated with our Windy City epithet.

EPIC is thrilled to partner with the Institute of Design at Illinois Tech! Learn more about ID:

“By uniting science and rigor with creativity and rapid iteration, we’re recognized around the globe as pioneers in human-centered design, systems design, and other methods that apply design to the real world. It’s through these unique approaches that students, communities, and corporations learn to observe the systems they’re surrounded by—and envision the new worlds they can build from them. Here, learners and leaders discover what design makes possible. It enables us to adapt with the speed, scale, and complexity of life. To anticipate change and the impact of our actions. And, most importantly, to imagine—then create—brighter futures for us all.”

Graduate School  /  Executive Academy  /  Action Labs

Zhou B Art Center

“A center for art, for life, for people, and for the future”

The EPIC2023 Opening Reception & Exhibition is October 7 at Zhou B in Chicago’s historic Bridgeport neighborhood.

Founded in 2004 by the internationally acclaimed Zhou Brothers, Zhou B Art Center is a nonprofit organization created as a site of exchange between local artists and the global art community while promoting the contemporary convergence of Eastern and Western visuality in the United States. Located in Chicago’s historic Bridgeport neighborhood, the Zhou B Art Center’s mission is to engage cultural dialogue through contemporary art exhibitions and programming with an international scope.

Explore Zhou B