After the success of our first artist residency earlier this year with poet Luis Tubens, our second artist in residence joins the library in September—transdisciplinary artist and Oak Park native Jon Veal.
“The goal is to connect with teens and tweens after school through creative activities,” said Lori Pulliam, Experiences and Initiatives Manager, Public Services. “It’s about engaging and relationship building. The youth are here not just to hang out, but to learn.”
As Tubens did in his residency through writing workshops and open mics, Veal will meet with youth in grades 6–12 after school, engaging them in learning about visual literacy. He hopes to develop public programs that engage kids of different ages, from different schools, as well as youth and families together.
“Part of my art, I feel I’m a facilitator. I really love helping people,” he said. “Being part of the library family, even for a few months, is really exciting for me.”
Veal, who said he had “the greatest time as a kid in Oak Park” before moving away at age 11, is based on Chicago’s South Side, where he has worked with the Rebuild Foundation on its mission to strengthen communities through free arts programming. As a transdisciplinary artist who focuses on “the egalitarian nature of art and the conversations of visibility, economics, and politics around race,” he said, “I use all of the disciplines I have. I use my skills in film, in painting, in music, in choreography. I bring all these skills together and create a kind of symphony.”
On working with youth: “It’s exciting and challenging at the same time. Kids have a lot to say. If you listen and empower them with their own platform, they come up with some pretty dope stuff."