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Urban Gateways Brings an Arts International Exchange Program to Auburn Gresham

Urban Gateways Art Option students pose for a photo with Ernest Sanders of GADC (bottom left) and Urban Gateways' teaching artists Maia Morgan, Grace Gachocha, and Shawn Wallace (bottom center to right). Also pictured are Urban Gateways' Jill LeCesne Potter (middle right) and Albert Cooper (rear center).

Aligning itself with Auburn Gresham’s Quality of Life Plan to make enjoyment of the arts and culture a way of life, The Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC) partnered with Urban Gateways to host their 2nd Annual Art Options summer apprenticeship program for middle and high school students at Perspectives Charter Schools-Calumet Campus. 

With support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Chicago International Connections Fund, arts icon, Urban Gateways participated in an international exchange of teaching artists from Chicago, IL and the United Republic of Tanzania (East Africa).

Grace Gachocha, a visiting teaching artist from Tanzania demonstrates an African dance technique to Urban Gateways Art Options students that encourages the concept of unity.

Urban Gateways’ Artist in Residence, Amanda Lichtenstein, traveled to the Tanzania to serve as a resident artist with the International Theater and Literacy Project and Grace Gachocha came to Chicago’s Auburn Gresham community to teach part of Urban Gateways’ Art Options program.

This overseas exchange afforded each artist the opportunity to showcase their talents, learn from a multi-week residency engagement, and disseminate knowledge back to their own countries and communities.

The Art Options program is a four-week summer apprenticeship program for middle and high school students working one-on-one with professional artists in the field. The program provides young artists the opportunity to experience the arts beyond the setting of the school classroom, an authentic studio experience in the arts, extended learning time, and compensation for achievement of program goals. 

Grace Gachocha (right) marches along side her resident host, Darlene Fieberg (left) and GADC's Ernest Sanders (middle right) with the Faith Community of Saint Sabina at a Friday evening violence prevention demonstration in Auburn Gresham.

Twenty-one students from Auburn Gresham, Englewood, and surrounding communities participated in this apprenticeship with teaching artists, Grace Gachocha and Urban Gateways’ Maia Morgan & Shawn Wallace. Within the four weeks, students were able to focus on issues within the community relevant to their age group, while exploring similarities and differences between American and Tanzanian culture. 

The students final production was a theatrical piece titled, “You Feel Me?” This play showcased the student’s ability to produce various forms of art to include theatre, visual art, audio recording, film/video, and poetry.

Grace Gachocha also had ambitions of learning about the community in which the students resided and participated in an evening violence peace march with the Faith Community of Saint Sabina.

A special thanks is given to John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago (LISC/Chicago), the Leo S. Guthman Fund, the Woods Fund of Chicago, the Saint Sabina Employment Resource Center (ERC), Oglesby Elementary School, and Joel Wanek Photography for their support of this international exchange.

Click here to view a video of the 2009 Art Options project in Auburn Gresham. For more information about Urban Gateways and their Art Options program, please visit their website at


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