Who We Are

OUR PURPOSE

Threewalls fosters contemporary art practices that respond to lived experiences, encouraging connections beyond art.

Our Vision

Art connecting segregated communities, people, and experiences together.

our values

Celebrating Difference

We believe that it is our responsibility to reflect not only Chicago’s racial, ethnic and cultural diversity but our society at large. In this vein, we believe that racial and ethnic inclusivity in addition to cultural equity is germane to our work.

Risk

We are committed to providing an environment that embraces risk, with the understanding that this is where the most fruitful and successful art and relationships are born.

Respect for Process

We believe that supporting process over time is integral to artistic and creative practices as well as relationship-building.

Collaboration

We value the practice of collaboration with our nonprofit peers, artists, community leaders, and others who are inspired to use art as a catalyst for change. We believe that without true collaboration, real change through the arts cannot happen.

our history

2003

Inception

Threewalls was founded in 2003 to provide support and visibility for the visual arts community in Chicago. The founders wanted to encourage a greater awareness of Chicago’s art scene by inviting emerging professional artists to share in the city’s rich histories, resources, and creative communities. Over the past fifteen years, Threewalls has been a center for artist-focused programming, critical writing, and direct support for artist projects.

2016

Conscious Transitions

Threewalls transitioned from a bricks-and-mortar gallery to an itinerant model in early 2016 in response to contemporary discourse about the intersections of art, social justice, and community. We continue to support artists and collaborative projects, especially those that are best presented outside of traditional art spaces, thereby expanding the discourse around contemporary art presentation and exhibition, and breaking down walls to contemporary art that are firmly in place in so many communities.

2019

Present Day

Today, we host artists interested in working in and with diverse Chicago communities through our RaD Lab program, support interactive work by local and regional artists in Outside the Walls, and program salons to generate open dialogue, the presentation of new ideas, and the publication of new writing. Threewalls partners with other organizations on exhibitions, publications, and education programs in an effort to broaden and contribute to the contemporary visual arts.

The Four Prongs of our Work

01

Value of art | artmaking | artist | creative process

We all know that the commodification of contemporary art, whether visual, performing or any other form, distorts its deeper value. This model challenges the commodity value placed on art and expands its value beyond the monetary. Additionally, this model centers artists, processes and people with the intent of demonstrating the impact of art on our daily lives and expanding the discourse on our lives, which are socially, politically and culturally nuanced.

02

Racial inclusivity

Given that Chicago is comprised of 2/3 people of color, we are dedicated to the organization and its work reflecting a diverse Chicago, which means supporting more artists of color, recruiting staff and board members of color, and providing leadership opportunities, as well as providing creative, critical and vendor opportunities. We are also committed to being racially and ethnically inclusive with respect to our audience. This is an extremely important aspect of the model of working with artists and communities where they live and work.

03

Community Accessibility

We want to present contemporary art in such a way that makes it accessible intellectually and physically in everyday life. Of the many ways to accomplish this, there are two ways that we currently focus on:

  • Being mobile and taking it to neighborhoods, community spaces, and places of work that make the engagement with art more accessible.
  • Including the audience in the process from the very beginning of the research phase.

04

Space

We want to conceptually, physically and philosophically expand the discourse around contemporary art presentation and exhibition—from three walls to the fourth wall to breaking down the walls. This is where itinerancy comes into play as our presentation model.

OUR TEAM

Barak adé Soleil

Director of Programs

For close to three decades, Barak adé Soleil has contributed to the contemporary arts scene across Turtle Island, Europe and West Africa. An award-winning artist, curator, and facilitator, Barak bridges the lived experience of being black, queer and multiply disabled with traditions from the African diaspora, access aesthetics and postmodernism to create multilayered performative works and cultivate stimulating global conversations.

In Chicago, Barak has served as the Consultant in Audience & Community Engagement for The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, curated the inaugural city-wide Moving Dialogs series, and presented creative works at Gallery 400, Stony Island Arts Bank, Links Hall and Gray Centre for Arts & Inquiry. Barak sits on the city’s Cultural Advisory Council for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Through relational, community centered dialogic and artistic engagements, Barak intends to address the complexities and nuances of intersectional ways of being informed by first voice-perspective.

 

Photo by Erika Dufour.

Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., a trained art historian and curator, merges administrative, curatorial and academic practices into her cultural practice of supporting artists and community development. As an advocate for racial inclusion, equity and access, Jeffreen has developed a curatorial and leadership approach that invites community participation, particularly those in marginalized communities. Her curatorial projects include  SILOS (2016-18), Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman (2018-2020),  AFRICOBRA: Messages to the People (2018), Process (2019) and AFRICOBRA: Nation Time (2019).  AFRICOBRA: Nation Time is currently an official collateral event in the 2019 Venice Biennale.

Jeffreen also speaks and writes about art history, Black art, and arts activism. She recently participated in TEDX Jacksonville and spoke about “Arts Activism in Simple Steps.” Her writing can be found in several independent online and print publications dedicated to art criticism.

As the Executive Director of Threewalls, a position she has held since 2015, Jeffreen provides strategic vision for the artistic direction and impact of the organization in Chicago. Under her leadership, Threewalls intentionally develops artistic platforms that encourages connections beyond traditional engagements with art. These engagements help manifest the organization’s vision of art connecting segregated communities, people and experiences together.

Jeffreen earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, a MA in Art History from Howard University, and a BA from Florida International University in Humanities.

Photo by Milo Bosh.

Regina Martinez

Artist & Artistic Engagement Manager

Regina Martinez is passionate about artists’ needs and the unpredictable alchemy of collaborative tension. For five years, she was Artistic Director of the Pink House in St. Louis (MO), a neighborhood art space for creative exchange, especially with young people. Regina is influenced broadly from a bachelor’s degree in photojournalism and a master’s degree in social and economic development from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. She is a graduate of the Community Arts Training Institute through the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis.  She is co-founder of “The Clothesline”, a monthly installation to transform space for one night only.  She is a collector of children’s art. She is the 2017 St. Louis Visionary Award recipient for Community Impact. She is currently Artist & Artistic Engagement Manager at Threewalls based in Chicago.

Lauren Williams

Propeller Fund Associate

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Lauren Williams has worked extensively in the field of community engagement and art. Living and working in Chicago, she has shared her energy and her wealth of experience with organizations such as Marwen, building and leading community programming for youth and adults as they engage with in art and arts education.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

Chiblie Coleman,
Treasurer

Unit Manager

Internal Operations Blue Cross Blue Shield

Colin D. Lord,
Vice President

Founder and CEO

New Ivy Consultants

Devin Mathews,
President

Partner

ParkerGale

Claire Ruud,
Secretary

Director of Curatorial Strategy

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

MEMBERS

Katherine Darnstadt,

Architect & Founder

Latent Design

Douglas Domenick,

Director of Facilities and Office Services

Chapman and Cutler LLP

Arnold Kemp,

Dean of Graduate Studies

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Lisa M. Key,

Deputy Director

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Oren Lund,

Partner

Massumi+Consoli, LLP

Working at Threewalls

Learn about opportunities to work at Threewalls.

Jobs & Interships

STAY INFORMED

Threewalls is always finding new ways to share our artist’s unique voices through exhibits, talks, and gatherings. We would like you to be the first to know about these opportunities.