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May 16


Hosted by the Chicago Park District
Produced by Aymar Jean Christian + Meida McNeal
Artists Annette BrittonThe CollectiveAllegra Dolores + Jo De Presser, and Keli Stewart
This space is wheelchair accessible.

Embedded in every one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, the parks are public resource, an invitation for every body, and potential sites of gathering, building, and healing for our communities. But, invitation is a delicate gesture. Not every community feels welcome, at home, or like the invitation includes them. So, how do we craft new and multiple offerings that beckon every body to enter and be heard with mutual respect, care, and consideration? How do we collectively imagine an invitation that opens up space to heal, bring forth magic, and usher in transformation? How do we reshape space, and our invitations, so everyone feels at home?


Aymar Jean “AJ” Christian is an assistant professor of communication studies at Northwestern University and a Peabody Fellow at the Media Center at Peabody. Dr. Christian’s first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood, forthcoming on New York University Press, argues the web brought innovation to television by empowering independent producers. His work has been published in numerous academic journals, including The International Journal of CommunicationCinema JournalContinuum, and Transformative Works and Cultures. He leads Open TV (beta), a research project and platform for television by queer, trans and cis-women and artists of color. Open TV (beta) programming partners have included the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Block Museum of Art, and City of Chicago, along with numerous galleries, community organizations, and universities. He has juried television and video for the Peabody Awards, Gotham Awards, Streamy Awards, and Tribeca Film Festival, among others. He received PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.


Dr. Meida McNeal works with the Chicago Park District as Arts & Culture Manager supporting community arts partnerships, youth arts learning, cultural stewardship and civic engagement initiatives across the city’s parks and cultural centers. She is also Artistic and Managing Director of Honey Pot Performance, an Afro-feminist creative collaborative that integrates movement, theater, and first-voice to examine the nuanced ways people negotiate identity, belonging, and difference in their lives and cultural memberships. The symbiotic relationship between ethnography and choreography is at the heart of Meida’s artistic practice informing the ways she develops movement, story, and sound for the everyday body, tying together individual experience and collective social themes. http://honeypotperformance.com

Annette Y. Britton was born and raised in Garfield Park. A former electronic engineer turned entrepreneur, Britton formed 5 Black Women Inc. in 2008 and authored a book of short stories by the same name.  She has performed with Goodman Theater's Intergenerational program, 2nd Story Theater and CHTF.  Britton is currently active in community-focused transformative change and Quality of Life issues and is growing a sewing/embroidery business and local storytelling.

Jo de Presser (aka Marlon Billups) is a DJ, Poet, and currently, Music Curator and Collaborator for Honey Pot Performance. Jo, has been DJ’ing throughout Chicago House scene since 1987. Starting at DiVinci Manor with promoter Quik Claude. He DJ’ed along side such Chicago House legends as Lil’ Louis, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Gene Hunt, Terry Hunter, and more. His works of poetry and spoken word have been published by Third World Press, Chicago State University, Robert Morris University and more. He has performed poetry and DJ’ed in Festivals, Clubs, Radio Stations, Universities, and in various cities and Canada.

allegra dolores.jpeg

Mix one-part joy and one-part pain; add soul—and taste the sound of Allegra Dolores. Southside Chicago-bred biological sisters with middle names that created their brand, Allegra Dolores brings a unique blend of hip hop, punk, funk, rock, and soul to their harmonies and a comedy-to-tragedy style in their songwriting abilities. Their current offerings produced a “Blexy” Award in the 2015 Favorite Theme Song category for Black&SexyTV web series RoomieLoverFriends. They hold down the background vocals in Chicago’s rising rhythm rock band JD’s Revenge, who is set for a European tour late spring 2016. For more on Allegra Dolores, visit @AllegraDolores on Twitter and Instagram and Allegra Dolores Music on Facebook.

Keli Stewart's work has appeared in Quiddity, Meridians, Warpland, Hip Mama, and Calyx, among other noted journals and publications. She received artist fellowships from Hedgebrook, and the Augusta Savage Gallery Arts International Residency. An alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation and Callaloo Summer Writing Workshops, Keli’s work was selected for first place in the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award from the Illinois Center of the Book, Emerging Writers Competition. She received her BA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College and her MFA in Poetry from Chicago State University. Her manuscript "After Birth" was recently named semi-finalist for the Claudia Emerson Chapbook Award.