South Chicago art center offers free programs for kids and young adults

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A free, safe and creative space is what SkyART is offering kids and young adults in South Chicago.

They're a program that is making us Chicago Proud.

"We ask them to get into a positive creative mindset walking into this space and kind of leaving all the negative stuff outside," SkyART Program Director Alinna Diaz-Porro said.

SkyART in South Chicago gives kids a warm welcome each and every day they come through the doors. Program Director Alinna Diaz-Porro says it's more than just an art center but a place where kids can come in and feel a sense of belonging.

"We really want to let families know that this is available to them. Kids they don't have to be artists to be a part of the SkyART family, you can come in here and you can just read a book in a safe space you can do that," she said.

SkyART offers seven different studios for kids to choose from ranging from sculpture to digital design.

Teaching artist Maria Vargas starting coming here in high school and found her passion.

"I remember going as a participant and I loved it. I drew a lily, that's my sister's name, Lily. It came out so beautiful and I just discovered something in me that I was like 'Oh my God this is amazing. I really love this and I want to continue doing this.' It's not just art making, it's a family. It's a family, it's a home," said Maria Vargas, teaching artist at SkyART.

Participants like Jehu Lacomb find it as a place of community for kids with common interests. He and his family moved from Haiti just six months ago and he says SkyART has given him a sense of peace.

"I love art and I wanted to be in the community with people that love art like me. I like the way it makes me feel safe, peace. It really is just a part of my life," said Jehu Lacomb.

This Friday all the work from this summer will be on display from 3 to 6p.m. The showcase is free and open to the public.

By the way, Jehu will be turning 15 on Friday, so happy early birthday and you can stop in to see his work.

Free Artist Showcase at SkyART
Friday, August 24 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
3026 E. 91st St
Chicago, IL

More information about SkyART

Mission: With art at the center of everything we do, SkyART provides free, safe, open spaces where young people are empowered and connections are made. Our work is guided by these core concepts:

Accessibility - to remove barriers - promoting participation in our programs, connection with other institutions and communities, and access to the broader world.

Responsiveness - to innovate - adapting programs to the evolving context within which we work, fostering civic engagement, cultural democracy, and social wellbeing.

Totality - to reach the whole person - recognizing that every participant has a unique life experience characterized by their own needs, assets, and interests.

Stability - to be a consistent presence - the "third place" after home and school, where participants develop meaningful relationships and experience a feeling of family.

Founded in 2001, a steadfast commitment to these principles has guided our development and has continually positioned SkyART as a trusted center for creativity and community, within and beyond our home neighborhood of South Chicago. Fulfilling and developing our mission through a rich variety of programs, partnerships, and initiatives, in our most recently completed fiscal year we reached over 3,800 participants in multiple locations, including the SkyART Studios, a growing network of South Side schools, and various spaces run by community partners.

SkyART provides a broad range of free visual art programming to young people through their Studio, School, and Community Programs. SkyART is defined by an innovative approach to art they call the SkyWAY, a shift in perspective that blurs the lines of formal art education and focuses on art making as an inherently educational experience. Through the lens of art, SkyART focus on creative youth development, constantly striving to make programs more relevant and more dynamic. You will not find its studio walls filled with identically constructed projects; you'll find vibrant collaborative canvases, 12 feet wide and full of color. You will not see "art students" following the directions of an "art teacher"; you'll find an animated community of makers, working together to identify relevant pathways for each participant to follow, refining the group's trajectory as they go to include all individual contributions to a shared collective vision.
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