The institute’s initiatives seek to expand the capacity of other like minded changemakers through a multi-faceted approach that includes individual coaching, organizational consulting, facilitated public programs to support local ecosystems, and nation-wide networking opportunities. We center the voices and works of our cohort participants through symposia, publications, and video documentation.

Public Art & Civic Engagement (PACE) Capacity-Building Initiative 

This initiative supports the creation of socially-engaged public art in cities throughout the United States. In distributing funds, providing training, and sharing resources with artists and organizations immersed in their neighborhoods across the country, the PACE initiative strengthens a national network of participatory public art practitioners who put communities at the center of their work. Join us for the culminating convening of the PACE Initiative: Created, Together.

2020-2023 PACE Cohort 

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) in Portland Oregon

Artist Catalysts:

Paola De La Cruz & Lillyanne Pham worked with communities from Orchards of 82nd, a 48-unit housing project and multicultural community space utilized by immigrant and refugee populations that addresses gentrification and displacement in Southeast Portland’s Jade District. They created a mural in the playground called “Drink the Water, Remember the Source”, a Vietnamese proverb uống nước nhớ nguồn, that pays homage to the Orchards of 82nd (O82) matriarch, and recognizes the importance of the space as both a place of play between youth and as a forum for conversation and community between youth caregivers.

Midori Hirose engaged with communities throughout southeast Portland through mapping workshops and seminars. Portland is an area with deep roots for the AAPI communities in the US, and with the Southeast part of the city being the site of historical farmlands and an orchard planted by Japanese immigrants. Through a series of interactive ceramic workshops centered on heritage, storytelling, and cultural connections, participants created ceramic “Furin” bells which were activated in a final installation and celebratory exchange between participants. 


Louisville Visual Art (LVA) in Louisville Kentucky

Artist Catalysts:

Jaylin Stewart worked with participants at the California Community Center, a community resource center in Louisville. Through a series of art making workshops Jaylin created a space for healing, relationship building, and having fun. With the goal of promoting representation and honoring the stories of Black and Brown community members, a collaborative mural was painted and installed on the side of the center that featured images of workshop participants.

Michael Coppage engaged with students from the Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville on a series of creative learning exchanges. Students were introduced to figures from the African Diaspora that are less studied in current American curriculums and participated in hands-on art making and photo portraiture sessions that generated imagery and inspiration for the installation at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage.


South Side Community Art Center in Chicago Illinois

Artist Catalysts:

Cecil McDonald created a video collage representing past and present residents of Bronzeville, a historically Black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Projected onto the SSCAC’s windows, ‘Metropolis: A City in Black,’ was created by combining images from SSCAC’s extensive archive, abstract city imagery, and portraits he collected throughout six months of events, dialogues, and encounters on the streets around Bronzeville.

Andrea Yarbrough worked from the archives of the Southside Community Arts Center, the oldest African American art center in the country and historic Chicago landmark, to uncover stories and images of Black women from the neighborhood. The artist met with local women from the Bronzeville community to learn and share stories through a series of collage making workshops. This led to the creation of a temporary installation outside the art center that represented a “neighborhood stoop” of past, present, and future history.

Art & Environmental Justice Co-Learning Initiative 

2023-2025 Art & Environmental Justice Cohort

The Art & Environment Capacity Building Initiative is entering its third iteration—now as the Art & Environmental Justice Co-Learning Initiative, Strength Through Solidarity. The initiative’s aim is to support BIPOC-led Environmental Justice organizations in advancing their goals and strengthening advocacy work in front-line communities. The focus is placed on leveraging participatory public art processes to increase awareness of environmental justice issues and fostering connections among community residents. Three organizations were chosen to participate in this multi-year cohort, providing them with tools, learning opportunities, and funding of over $260,000. The program is designed to address the unique needs of environmental justice organizations rooted in front-line communities and prioritize BIPOC leadership for a more just future.

The cohort will be announced soon, this fall 2023!

Our previous collaborations for the Art & Environment Capacity Building Initiative include included:


2020-2022 Art & Environmental Justice Cohort

Austin, TX: Raasin in the Sun (Raasin McIntosh and Alexandria Anderson) and The Mosaic Workshop (J Muzacz and Carmen Rangel)
Kern County, CA: Michelle Glass, MFA, Public Artist and Activist, Dr. Rosanna Esparza, Retired Gerontologist, Researcher and Community Organizer, Nayamin Martinez, MPH, Executive Director of Central California Environmental Justice Network, and Dr. Catherine Garoupa White, Executive Director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition
Santa Fe, NM: Alas de Agua Art Collective (Israel Haros, John Paul Granillo, and Jessica Ortiz) and Three Sisters Collective (Dr. Christina M. Castro and Autumn Dawn Gomez)

2017-2019 Art & Environment Cohort

Akron, OH: ArtsNow and The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition working with artist Lizzi Aronhalt
Detroit, MI: CultureSource and Live6 Alliance working with artist Chazz Miller
Memphis, TN: UrbanArt Commission with Clean Memphis and more working with artists Khara Woods and Jamond Bullock