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The South Side Community Art Center: How Its Art Collection Can Be Used as an Education Resource Open Access

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This study examines the South Side Community Art Center in Chicago, its history, educational mission, and the ways in which its collection of primarily African American art can be used as an art education resource. The data collection for this qualitative case study included questionnaires focusing on the collection and the Center’s history and mission, in-depth interviews with three Center administrators and one visual artist, informal personal communication, and observational notes. All data was examined using content analysis. Respondents indications concluded that the mission and goals of the Center grew out of its WPA beginnings and was primarily to support the artists and to educate the community about the value of African American art; that the Center’s education mission revolved around its educational programming; that the art collection had been used in the past to teach about the Black Power Movement and makes references to important events in history; and that the Center’s relationship to the community was multi-faceted and included outreach to local schools in after-school art programs.The center’s art collection, because of the themes inherent in many of the works, make important connections to key events in American history such as the WPA, WWII, the Great Depression and the Black migration that facilitates meaning making across the life span. The study’s results provided evidence of the South Side Community Art Center’s role as not only a repository for regional and national African American art and artists, but also as an educational hub for visual culture, art study and relevance for contemporary life themes.

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