The Center Program was first piloted in 2012 as a response to gaps in accessible professional development offerings for artists in Chicago. Traditional MFA programs are frequently cost-prohibitive; there are limited opportunities outside of colleges and universities; and, most artists actively seek time and space to deepen their practice, more critical feedback and guidance, and more exposure to networking opportunities. Artists accepted into this program are charged to create new works, present their process inside of group seminars and individuals meetings with visiting professionals, and finish by participating in a curated exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center. This year’s list of visiting professionals include Claudine Ise, Anna Kunz, Jefferson Pinder, Jim Duignan, Jim Dempsey, Peter Fitzpatrick, Tricia Van Eck, Patric McCoy, Damon Locks, Patterson Sims, and Erzen Shkololli.
The demand for the Center Program over the last seven years proves there is a wide-ranging need for robust and accessible programming designed for working artists. The Center Program continues to offer scholarships for artists of color, Teaching Artists, access to free courses at the Art Center, separate development programs with UChicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, and also secures space for alums from partner organizations such as Luminarts Cultural Foundation, Marwen, 3Arts, UChicago’s Arts & Public Life, and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.