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G to G Coaching Session: How To Balance Creative Work & Multiple Projects

The second development resource workshop in our series artist development partnership with ILA Creative Studio!



SSCAC is thrilled to partner with ILA Creative Studio for their G-to-G Coaching Sessions in a 3-part series of artist development resource workshops that intend to help close the gap of limited, sustainable business resources, specific to the needs of Black artists.


ILA Creative Studio’s G-to-G Coaching Sessions are an opportunity for professional practicing artists (18+) to have space to learn and grow in their respective fields – led by a mentor or coach that provides specific insights on a specific topic. These sessions help to translate effective ways for Black artists to achieve sustainability in their fields.


So much of our time as practicing artists goes into actually creating our wonderful art, but we MUST create time where we learn about the necessary business etiquette. Each session will be led by coaches and teaching artists who will provide insight on a specific topic, with the intention of assisting Black artists to work toward achieving sustainability in their field.


Second up, “How To Balance Creative Work & Multiple Projects”, led by Adia Sykes and Tiffany Johnson! Where they’ll cover all things project management, artist development strategies, and self-care advocacy within the arts.


Adia Sykes is an arts organizer and curator based in Chicago. Her practice seeks to center philosophies of improvisation, intuition, and care, engaging them as tools through which meaningful relationships between artists and viewers can be cultivated, while leaving space for the vernacular to mingle with constructs of history and theory.


As an administrator advocating for racial equity and sustainable ecosystems for creative practitioners, she has held roles with organizations like the Chicago Artists Coalition, where she started their SPARK Grant— a joint effort with the Joyce Foundation providing unrestricted grants to artists of color, not formally trained artists, and artists with disabilities. At present, Adia is Co-Director of Programs at Threewalls which is an arts organization that fosters contemporary art practices that respond to lived experiences, encouraging connections beyond art. She is also a Lead Organizer of the Chicago Art Census, a city-wide research project that collects, maps, and visualizes data that illuminates the lived experiences and working conditions of art workers in Chicago.


Her curatorial projects include Locating Memory (Chicago Mayor’s Office, 2018), Project Radio London (Centro Arte Opificio Siri in Terni, Italy, 2018), and The Petty Biennial.2 (Chicago, 2019-2020). She has also realized projects with the Art Institute of Chicago, Sullivan Galleries, Woman Made Gallery, ACRE, Material Exhibitions, Roman Susan Gallery, and Comfort Station. She also currently serves as Board Chair for Chicago Dancemakers Forum.


Adia earned a Masters in Arts Administration and Policy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.


A Southsider, born and bred, Tiffany M Johnson is interested in spaces (and a world) where Black people can exhale. A queer Black woman, she is a researcher, survivor advocate, and cultural worker passionate about community building through imaginative, underground, and cooperative practices.

Tiffany attended SOAS, University of London, for her Master’s in Migration and Diasporas Studies. Currently pursuing a DIY Ph.D., her research focuses on otherworld-making community practices through ancestral technologies, creative expressions, and ecological relations.


She is ACRE Residency’s Programs Director, which supports emerging artists develop, discuss and present their artistic practices. Under this role, she also manages the Chicago Art Census – a comprehensive, cross-discipline data collection effort created by and with the art workers of Chicago. In addition, as the Consultant Curator with the Chicago Park District, Arts & Culture Unit (ACU), she co-designed and led the development of the public curatorial residency program, Anchor Residency.


She is a member of the Cooperation for Liberation, an open study and working group focused on cooperative histories in Black communities and is co-stewarding the development of the survivor support mutual aid group, Project Nebula.



Snacks and sponsored coffee will be provided by Sip & Savor!



Works in EMERGENCE are diverse in their subject matter and media, but a few themes reappear throughout. Working in abstraction or in the traditionally peaceful genre of still life, artists like William Carter, Allen Stringfellow, and Jonathan Green express themes of interiority or sociability, history or modernity. Notably, Stringfellow and Ralph Arnold both experimented with media and materials and worked extensively in collage, which allowed them to combine abstract design, figurative imagery, and on occasion political ideas.

Viewers typically expect Black artists to focus on particular aspects of their social and political identities within their work. Where might those expectations come from? Still life, abstraction, and collage may express many different things about artists’ interior lives and their visual and social observation, whether connected to public manifestations of identity or not.

William Carter’s mid-century still life Untitled presents a group of vibrantly colored bottles that invite the viewer’s gaze, set against a similarly colorful background with floral elements like grapes and leaves. They give evidence of conviviality and might be interpreted as symbols of social gatherings, but they could also just be a collection of pleasing forms. We might put Carter’s still life in dialogue with that of Jonathan Green, who became close friends with Carter while living in Chicago. Green’s close-up view of an eloquently simple composition presents oranges, a pear, and a lemon in front of two vessels. Works like this piece call the viewer to examine the objects the artist chose to include, to consider how they interact with each other like bodies in space, and to reflect on their meaning within the traditional genre of still life painting.

Collage might suggest the piecing together of identity from different components that might not usually coexist, giving room for more expansive imaginations of meaning than a straightforward representational image might allow. It could also just be an inventive way of combining colors, shapes, and textures. Allen Stringfellow’s Untitled, a collage from 1962, brings familiar motifs from still life—fruit and flowers, desserts and glassware—together with imagery of artist’s models and performers. Layered with paint and tissue paper that frustrate the viewer’s attempt to get clarity on the subject matter, the bursts of form and colors hint at the splashy abstraction of Stringfellow’s untitled, textured painting made from house paint and particulate on cardboard. Here the artist tests commonly found materials to create new textures and plays with the creation of colors and finishes that diverge from “Western” academic painting methods.

In The Waiting, Arnold constructs a large collage from different paper components, lace, and paint. In the piece, elements of European and African art are placed in dialogue with one another, while some figures appear alone and isolated, others in large groups. Without giving easy answers, Arnold implies questions about social issues. Who is waiting, and for what? In his Love Sign II, which bears the words “Love is Universal,” Arnold asserts the equal validity of all types of romantic affection and love, utilizing collage to convey a more straightforward political message.