Grantee Project: Greening the Southeast Side

Artists: Southeast Environmental Task Force in partnership with artists: Sam Kirk + Eduardo Luna / Nine 3 Studios
Neighborhood: Hegewisch
Art Type: Gathering Place + Mural(s) + Block Party
Grant Amount: $100,000

Greening the Southeast Side

Greening the Southeast Side will have multiple artwork components across different locations on the Southeast Side and will be community-driven art installations that will reflect the community’s long history of labor organizing and environmental and climate justice activism. 

One-to-two murals will be conceptualized by a participatory process via a project advisory committee comprised of artists, activists and community members to ensure the community is represented in the art and active participants in its creation.  

The murals will encourage engagement from the community by using social media to share pictures in front of the mural. Social media engagement will help to create awareness outside of neighborhood boundaries to attract the entire city to come and experience the art and understand that climate and environmental justice issues impacts us all but not equally. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the victories already achieved on the Southeast Side, and to reflect on a safe community to live, work and play in.

A thoughtful greenhouse-inspired space utilizing different creative mediums will provide area residents with a space for healing, community engagement and to have a space to rest and reflect on the beautiful natural areas in the community and the future of the Calumet Region.  

A block party will be a celebration of the work that has been done to protect the natural areas in the region, including the activism to have a safe community and the future. The gathering will include live music by local artists, food, resource tables from other climate/environmental justice groups, and a panel discussion including artist(s), climate justice activists, EJ advocates, and others speaking about EJ/Climate impacts on Chicago and highlighting the impacts to the Southeast Side community.

Southeast Environmental Task Force is an environmental nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the southeast side and south suburbs of Chicago by promoting environmental education, pollution prevention, and sustainable development. They will be collaborating with artists Sam Kirk and Eduardo Luna on this project.

Sam Kirk is a Chicago-based, award-winning Multidisciplinary Artist who explores culture and identity politics through her work, with 15 years of experience developing 2D and 3D fine art works as well as fabricated and experiential spaces. 

Throughout her childhood, her family’s frequent moves to a variety of Chicago neighborhoods sparked her fascination with the nuances of the human experience. It was during these moments where she found herself discovering the cultures of the city and sorting through her own identity as a bi-racial, queer woman. Kirk’s artwork, much like her life, has been an on-going narrative about how life’s experiences impact our identity. She has been recognized for her public art career, as she intentionally uses the public space to spark dialogue around topics of equality and visibility for women, communities of color, and the LGBTQIA community. 

Her public art portfolio includes 50 permanent murals and 13 temporary large scale installations. Her first short film animation “Color of Tomorrow”, a collaboration with writer and director Michelle M. Collins, received a 2020 Davey Award, 2021 Telly Award, and 2021 Communicator Award for its focus on social justice. 

She is the recipient of the 2020 Human First Award and a 2021 LGBTQ Honoree from the State of Illinois for her work with the LGBTQ Community. Kirk has collaborated with respected brands, non-profits, higher education institutions, and cities across the world using a variety of mediums to produce project specific artworks. Her work is featured in top publications including O Magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, and Travel + Leisure among many others. 

Eduardo Luna, AKA dTel, is an independent graffiti artist with 20 years of experience. He grew up near Lake Michigan and the Calumet River – a heavily industrialized shoreline and riverbank that left little access for people to enjoy the water. Since 2009, Eduardo has created many pieces across the Southeast Side of Chicago and also in St. Louis, Austin, Houston, Las Vegas, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Mexico. 

In the summer of 2019, he hosted the first-ever Meeting of Styles (MOS 2019) on the Southeast Side of Chicago, where he brought dozens of graffiti artists to create a diverse collection of public art under a bridge on Chicago’s far Southeast Side. The three-day event brought together community members, environmental and climate justice activists, and artists. He raised 15K to cover the cost of food and water for the artist and community members, provided art kits and spray paint for youth, a panel discussion about water justice and climate justice, DJs, artisans, and more. dTell organized the 2nd Meeting of Styles (MOS) and community fair in the fall of 2021.

2019 was also the same year that dTel joined the advisory committee for the Calumet Connect Partnership, where he advised and organized focus groups for artists to weigh in on a Databook for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. The Databook will serve as a resource in guiding policy and planning in the Calumet Industrial Corridor. The findings in the Databook draw on both quantitative and qualitative methods of evaluating the study area and the quality of life for residents.