Marwen: empowering youth through visual arts
// By Jacqueline Brennan
Sign up for the Marwen Community Dinner – and you’re in for a double treat! Not only will you learn about the origin of this nonprofit organization that provides free visual arts courses to Chicago school students. You’ll also enjoy a wonderful dinner buffet – but more about that later.
Located in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood, Marwen was founded in 1987. What began as a one-room art studio is now a multi-floor, eight-studio, multi-gallery industrial loft that serves more than 900 students a year, offering visual arts and college and career programming for Chicago’s young people from under-resourced communities and schools in middle through high school.
Aurora King, Marwen’s director of education, says they “partner with teaching artists from across Chicago to offer these programs, as well as college and career programming, in terms of accessing arts high schools and continuing education after high school.”
In addition to college and career programs, Marwen offers studio program courses and workshops to support students in developing artistic skills, experimenting with various media, and discovering new interests and ideas. They also offer teaching and learning programs that help teaching artists refine their teaching practice through assessment of student learning, feedback from surveys, and reflection on their practice.
Aurora says Upswell changemakers will have the opportunity “to see our space and see young people being at the center of and driving the work. During the community dinner, she explains, “young people will partner with teaching artists to present an art experience and opportunity for dinner attendees to dine together and connect with each other through creativity.”
The Marwen community meal buffet will include baby spinach salad with toasted walnuts, crumbled blue cheese, and lemon vinaigrette; artisan breads and rolls with butter (classic French baguette with brioche, sesame semolina, and harvest dinner rolls); balsamic and honey glazed Amish chicken breasts; stuffed tomatoes with dried cranberries, wild rice, and toasted almonds; roasted fingerling potatoes with sea salt; seared brussels sprouts and roasted butternut squash; and assorted housemade bars (decadent chocolate brownies, raspberry crumble bars, and brown butter rice krispie treats).
“The dinner will support community building and the opportunity for leaders committed to social change to get to know each other better,” Aurora adds. “They’ll also engage in an arts experience led by young artists and consider the perspective and process that Chicago artists bring to social changework and how the creative process can be activated in that.”
Upswell Community Dinners take you into Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods to eat like a local, get a sense of what life is like in the community, and experience firsthand how bonding over food and mission might lead to new friends and innovative solutions. To sign up for this Community Dinner, just select Marwen when you register for Upswell.