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A Chatham space is reclaimed for art and inspiration

By Steven Graves

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    CHICAGO (WBBM) — Get ready to experience art in a whole new, first-of-its-kind way in A Chicago neighborhood.

A transformed venue on the South Side is ready to invite people indoors. As CBS 2’s Steven Graves explains, it comes with the goal of changing the culture.

Art pieces glittered in gold. This is how artist Kristen Williams speaks through paint.

“I paint pictures of Black people and the Black experience.”

Her latest, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice. An illustration of inspiration to other young people.

She chose to show it off at this new spot in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood over others.

“They were expensive, but this was affordable and it was in my community,” Williams said, who said it’s like taking back a space.

“Absolutely We are reenergizing it with a purpose.”

Nedra Sims Fears is with the Greater Chatham Initiative, who helped spearhead the nearly $200,000 project.

A City of Chicago grant helping turn the old retail space at 79th and Evans into an art gallery and multi-use space called “Artists on the Nine.”

Tragedy struck in 2014, when beloved teacher, Doctor Betty Howard, was shot and killed by a stray bullet as she worked a second job at the building.

“We’re hoping that this art space inspires and redirects some negative behavior,” Sims Fears said.

She noted that Greater Chatham has a history of makers and entrepreneurs. Sims Fears said census data shows about 10% of people who live here consider themselves creatives.

“Fine arts, graphic artists, Photographers,” she said.

Addressing a need through a medium not yet imagined until now. The space will also host community events so art work gets exposure.

Williams, one of three artists, said it’s just the start to a vision of dozens more occupying the venue.

“This community has seen a lot and now it’s seeing something different.”

A new way to inspire vibrant growth and change.

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