Healing the Divide | Visualizing a Lead-Free Environment: How Art Intersects with Community Activism

  • Partner Programs
  • November 11, 2021 5:30 pm CDT

    Multi-disciplinary artist Mel Chin (S.O.U.R.C.E. Studio) joins Cheryl Johnson (People for Community Recovery) and Devon VanHouten-Maldonado (SkyART) for a conversation on how art and process-based learning intersect with community activism in Chicago. The one-hour program will take a look at Mel Chin’s ongoing Fundred Dollar Bill Project, a creative campaign that raises awareness about the invisible threats posed by lead contamination in soil, water, and housing while also exploring Johnson’s over three decades of environmental justice work in Chicago and the many visual art programs VanHouten-Maldonado oversees with youth on the South and West sides. 

    This panel is funded by the Eisenhower Foundation who seeks to explore how art can be an integral part of creating the new will critical to implementing the change we need to heal our nation and better amplify, visualize, and reinforce the policy priorities recommended by the Kerner Commission to end racial and economic inequality. Moderated by Eisenhower Foundation’s Vice President of Communications Leila McDowell, the panel will explore the practices of each participant, while observing how they overlap to address concerns of lead pollution, community activism, and the possibilities of being empowered through art.

    Presented by the Eisenhower Foundation in partnership with EXPO Chicago, the Mellon Foundation, and S.O.U.R.C.E. StudioLive captioning will be provided.

    This program is generously supported by the Eisenhower Foundation and Mellon Foundation. 


    Over 50 years ago, the Kerner Commission was convened by President Lyndon Johnson after protests and rebellions in over 150 American cities in the nineteen sixties. The Commission concluded that the cause of the disorders was “white racism.”  Over those 50 years we have assembled considerable evidence on what works – yet we have not implemented all of those policies because we still don’t have what the Kerner Commission called “new will” from the American public. How can art be an integral part of social justice movements and help create that new will to implement the change we need to heal our nation and better amplify, visualize, and reinforce the policy priorities of ending racial and economic inequality?  

    Video Link: It Starts with Us: The Role of the Performing Arts in Addressing Equity and Healing a Divided Society with Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at the Kennedy Center. Excerpt from event sponsored by the Eisenhower Foundation in collaboration with APAP 365 on October 4, 2021.