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The Center Program Logo 600px WApplications for The Center Program's 2014 session are closed. Check back this fall for the 2015 application! 

The Center Program offers the unique opportunity to develop new work, receive feedback from professionals in the field, and work towards an exhibition to be held in the Art Center's main gallery. Over the course of six months, a supportive peer network, guest artists, gallerists, critics, and professionals push Center Program artists to answer tough questions, evolve their art, and ultimately produce strong, new work to show.

About The Center Program

A natural outgrowth of the Art Center’s progressive and scaffolded arts education programs, The Center Program was first piloted in 2012. Conceived as a capstone program for artists who had grown beyond the Art Center’s other offerings, and were ready to push their practice to the next level, The Center Program is the Art Center’s answer to the existence of critical gaps in traditional professional development offerings for artists.

Traditional MFA programs are frequently cost-prohibitive; artists of color are underrepresented; and, many artists who have obtained an MFA find that they simply want more: more time and space to deepen their practice, more critical feedback and guidance, and more exposure. As a result, the Art Center developed The Center Program to offer working artists a unique combination of access to materials and space to develop a rigorous studio practice, inclusion in critical dialogue about their work, guidance from professionals in the field, and a platform to show that work to a broad and diverse audience.

The Center Program is an initiative that is deeply aligned with the spirit of the Art Center’s mission: developing artists at all levels in support of Chicago’s broader arts community. In that vein, the Art Center sought to forge distinctive partnerships with other Chicago institutions and leaders in the visual arts—like The Joyce Foundation, The University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, and all the visiting professionals who provide guidance and feedback to artists in the program—to ensure access for artists of color, as well as maintain a standard of excellence that will continue to serve artists beyond their matriculation through The Center Program.

The Graham School has partnered with the Art Center to offer a Visual Arts Certificate Program (VACP), which is comprised of four seminar courses ranging from business to writing for artists, plus a rigorous studio practice component: The Center Program. Artists may apply for The Center Program as a stand-alone opportunity, or to the VACP, which includes The Center Program, by indicating their choice on the application form.

For questions about the VACP, email Program Assistant Nikki Yagoda at nyagoda@uchicago.edu.

Program Details

Structure: Formal seminar meetings with visiting professionals take place every other Monday for six months, beginning in early February 2014. The sessions will include critical group discussions around individual work and work toward group goals. The program culminates in an exhibition at the Art Center.

2014 Start Date: late February
2014 Application Available: Monday, September 30, 2013
2014 Applications Due: Tuesday, December 31, 2013
2014 Exhibition: September - December, 2014

Guest professionals: critic Susan Snodgrass (Art in America); Art Institute of Chicago's Annie Morse (Museum Education), photographer and educator Dawoud Bey; artist Juan Angel Chavez; Jim Dempsey (Corbett vs. Dempsey); founder of Stockyard Institute and chair of Arts Education at DePaul University, Jim Duignan; curator and founder of 6018 North Tricia Van Eck; and gallerist Dan Devening (Devening Projects). 

Access: In addition to critical discussions, Center Program artists also have access to the Oakman Clinton School & Studios at the Art Center, including: Painting & Drawing, Digital Lab, Darkroom, Printmaking/Silkscreen, Ceramics, and Mixed Media.

Tuition: Tuition for The Center Program is $1500. A limited number of full-tuition scholarships are available for artists of color and Art Center teaching artists. Artists can apply for scholarships via the scholarship application form on the Art Center’s website, which can be accessed via the online Center Program / VACP application form.

Additionally, some past Center Program artists received funding through the Community Arts Assistance Program offered by the City of Chicago. Click here to learn more about the Community Arts Assistance Program.

The Center Program is partially supported by The Joyce Foundation.

More about our partnership with The University of Chicago

In partnership with The University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, The Center Program aligns with the Graham School's new year-long Visual Arts Certificate Program (VACP). The VACP is designed to help artists further their art practice while developing strengths in critiquing, teaching, presenting, and writing about art. Curating exhibitions, negotiating contracts, conducting studio visits, and writing press releases are just some of the professional practices that artists can master, yet instruction in these skills is largely absent from BFA and MFA curricula. The VACP aims to fill this experiential gap that exists in traditional programs, plus enable artists to deepen their studio practice through The Center Program at Hyde Park Art Center.

Please contact Program Assistant Nikki Yagoda at nyagoda@uchicago.edu with any questions about the VACP.

If you have any questions about The Center Program, please contact Director of Education Mike Nourse by email at mnourse@hydeparkart.org, or at 773.324.5520 x1005.

Image: Visiting professional Dawoud Bey critiques work by Center Program artists.