Call Detail
City of Chicago - Legler Regional Library Artist in Residence Program

Entry Deadline: 9/12/21
Application Closed
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 6, Maximum:Max. 10
Video | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 6, Maximum:Max. 10
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: Local
State: Illinois

Legler Regional Library Artist-in-Residence Program
Deadline to apply: Sunday September 12th at 5:00pm CDT

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), in partnership with the Chicago Public Library (CPL), seeks artists to participate in the inaugural Legler Regional Library Artist-in-Residence Program. During a two-year residency, an artist will be given studio space at the library to develop public art projects and art programs that utilize the artist’s unique talents to promote greater connectivity between the library, its services, and the needs and aspirations of the local West Garfield Park community.

Chicago’s west side has received its first regional library in over 40 years with the renovation and expansion of Henry E. Legler Library, located at 115 S Pulaski Rd in West Garfield Park. The exterior and interior renovations include updates to the technology infrastructure with expansion of interior and exterior Wi-fi; a new computer lab, meeting rooms, and study rooms; a Maker Lab with 3D printers, Laser Cutters, Vinyl Cutters, Sewing Machines and Heat Press; YOUmedia renovation with a state-of-the-art Sound/Recording Studio; elevator lift to mezzanine level book stacks; accessible unisex restrooms and, notably, a dedicated Artist-in-Residence Studio.

These renovations allow for more accessible, technologically advanced programming in addition to the already robust slate of programs. These include early childhood story time and play activities; science & technology programming for 10-13 year-olds; workforce development programming for teens and adults; maker programming for kids, teens, and adults; music and sound production programming; photography; gaming; as well as providing an expanded book collection for all ages. Additionally, Kerry James Marshall's monumental painting “Knowledge and Wonder” (1995) has been reinstalled and joins a suite of other notable public artworks at the library including “Floating Family” (1995), a wood sculpture by Elizabeth Catlett, an American and Mexican graphic artist and sculptor best known for her depictions of the African American experience in the 20th century; and “Wilderness, Winter River Scene” (1934), a restored WPA mural by Midwestern artist R. Fayerweather Babcock.  

Additionally, Mayor Lightfoot is committed to improving safety and wellbeing in West Garfield Park. Through the new Neighborhood Activation initiative, the City of Chicago is bringing a whole-of-government approach to promote safety and address root causes of violence through a combination of social services and changes to the physical landscape. The Artist-in-Residence will contribute to this holistic effort to encourage community cohesion.

The Artist-in-Residence program is a part of Culture in My Neighborhood, a new collaborative initiative that supports cultural programming at the Chicago Cultural Center, 18 Chicago Park District neighborhood cultural centers, and the Chicago Public Library regional libraries, through grants and commission opportunities for artists and organizations. 

With world-class public art and enhanced facilities, Legler Regional Library is well positioned to serve as an incubator for artists from Chicago’s West Side and beyond to create work in, with, and for the community. DCASE and CPL are partnering to introduce the first CPL Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program at Legler. During a two-year residency, an artist or artist team will be given studio space at the library, embedding within the library system to develop public art projects and art programs. Program outcomes will be the result of a collaborative process that utilizes the artist’s unique talents to promote greater connectivity between the library, its services, and the needs and aspirations of the local community.

Specifically, the Artist-in-Residence will be tasked to:

  • Conduct research, in a manner true to the artist’s creative process, that allows them to learn about the CPL system, Legler Regional Library, and the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Maintain a regular schedule of onsite, creative hours in the studio to make art and engage with staff and visitors.
  • Develop and execute a series of monthly community programs at the library in the form exhibitions, panels, workshops, or other formal or informally scheduled events that engage staff and/or visitors in an educational or participatory art making experience.
  • At the end of the two-year residency, present a final project that is the creative summation of the artist’s collaborative work at the library and in the community.

Final projects will become a part of the Library’s growing collection. At the conclusion of the residency, CPL and DCASE staff will conduct a thorough evaluation of the project to review successes and challenges and make recommendations about next steps and scalability for other library branches and other city departments.

This opportunity is open to professional artists/ artist teams who live or work in the City of Chicago. The selected artist or artist team must have a demonstrated commitment to working with and for the benefit of the public. Artists who live and work on the West Side of Chicago, and specifically near Legler Regional Library, are highly encouraged to apply.

DCASE will serve as nonvoting facilitators of the artist selection panel; voting members will include Legler staff, Aldermanic and community representatives, and local arts professionals. To assure that the goals of the project are met, artists will be required to participate in a competitive selection process.

Applicants will be vetted by a committee of stakeholders; finalists will be invited to interview based on a competitive review of the following:

  • Past work in or ties to West Garfield Park and/or neighborhoods adjacent to Legler Regional Library.
  • Artistic merit and professional qualifications demonstrated in a dynamic portfolio of past work that includes community-based projects, social practice, arts education, and/or public art.
  • A broad range of creative and administrative skills applicable to the development and execution of the residency program, including budget and timeline management.
  • Experience working collaboratively with diverse stakeholders.
  • Ability to communicate effectively and synthesize complex concepts into compelling artworks.
  • Basic knowledge of the services provided by the Chicago Public Library system.

In addition to the in-kind use of space at Legler Regional Library, the Artist-in-Residence will be given an annual budget of $50,000. The budget is all inclusive of costs associated with engagement program, activities and final projects--including guest artist/panelist fees, travel, materials and supplies--and includes a $15,000 yearly stipend paid directly to the Artist-in-Residence to support their administration of the program.

Sample Budget:

  • Artist-in-Residence Fee                          $15,000
  • Monthly Community Programs               $15,000
    (includes guest artist/ panelist fees, community stipends, amenities and production expenses)
  • Materials and Supplies                             $5,000
  • Development of Final Project(s)             $15,000
  • Total Annual Budget                               $50,000

* All dates are approximate.

RFQ released via CAFÉ7/6/219/12/21     10
Information Sessions (online webinar and meeting at Legler)Week of 9/13/21      1
Review of qualifications9/20/2110/1/21     2
Committee selects 3-4 finalists10/4/2110/8/21     1
Finalist interviews/presentations10/11/2110/15/21     1
Notification of final selection10/18/2110/22/21     1
Anticipated date for commencing work11/1/2111/12/21     2

Application is available via CaFÉ ( at the following link:   

Interested applicants should register with CaFÉ in order to view the application. Deadline for submissions is Sunday September 12th at 5:00pm CDT. 

Each artist or artist team must submit an entirely digital application. 
Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applications should include:

  • a) A one- (1) page letter of interest that clearly states:
    • i. your interest in and unique qualifications for this opportunity.
    • ii. your understanding of how an artist-in-residence program can benefit Legler Regional Library and its surrounding community.
    • iii. Please use examples of your past work to illustrate your points.
  • b) Six (6) to ten (10) total images of past public art projects, with an emphasis on community-based projects, by the artist or the artist team’s lead artist(s).
  • c) One (1) video, edited to no more than two (2) minutes in length, may also be submitted but is not required.
  • d) Annotated Image List: An annotated image list that includes the title, media, year completed, dimensions, location (if site-specific), project budget (if applicable), timeline, and client or commissioning entity for each corresponding image.
    • i. If a video is submitted, please include two to three (2-3) sentences to describe its context.
  • e) If applying as an artist team, a list of key team members and their roles/affiliations.
  • f) A two- (2) page resume or curriculum vitae (CV).
    • i. If applying as an artist team, provide one resume or CV for each team member.

Questions: please email

About the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events:
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. DCASE also manages the city’s public art collection that includes more than 500 works of art exhibited in over 150 municipal facilities around the city, such as police stations, libraries, and community centers.

About the Chicago Public Library:
Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. The Chicago Public Library is additionally supported by the work of The Chicago Public Library Foundation. As our public library system grows and evolves to meet the diverse needs of the Chicago community, donors to the Library Foundation support our public library system’s most responsive and innovative programs, its acquisition of new technologies, and the development of its collections.

See long description, "How to Apply"

This opportunity is open to professional artists/ artist teams who live or work in the City of Chicago. The selected artist or artist team must have a demonstrated commitment to working with and for the benefit of the public. Artists who live and work on the West Side of Chicago, and specifically near Legler Regional Library, are highly encouraged to apply. Each artist or artist team must submit an entirely digital application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.