transformative practice

Leah Gipson | Artist, Educator, Art Therapist



What it's about:

In March 2014, a group of friends gathered to discuss ideas about the concept of Black Eutopia and its goal to revitalize community spaces. This discussion led by Rae Taylor, artist and North Lawndale native, led to the second project to launch from West Side Art Chicago.  

Black Eutopia engages the community by re-imagining the use of communal space. On October 24, 2014 from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM, a North Lawndale barbershop became the setting for art, performance and discussion on Black labor.

Black Eutopia crosses borders by initiating critical conversation between the worlds of art and work.  The participating artists contemplate ideas about art form, social class, and Black labor.  Black Eutopia presents an interdisciplinary perspective of artists with backgrounds in socially engaged art practice, performance, visual art, hair styling, arts administration, art therapy, and business.

This project provides an opportunity to build visibility in North Lawndale, a burgeoning Chicago neighborhood with a rich history of Black culture and community. North Lawndale is among Chicago's west side neighborhoods that are underrepresented in a larger arts context. Black Eutopia introduces art that is recognizable and intentionally inclusive of community members. The event invites participants to explore the art of Black labor.

How it works:

Black Eutopia received start-up funds from This Art T-Shirt and  joins the collection of WSAC generative projects that will create opportunities for social and economic thriving of artists and community members. We invited Chicago to become a vital part of a movement to restore social and economic justice through arts development on the west side of Chicago. 

Black Eutopia was part of Chicago Artists Month 2014, the 19th annual celebration of Chicago’s vibrant art community presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.  For more information, visit


Sustainability Plan:

WSAC is committed to the total thriving of communities of color. Each project is co-created to generate sustainable art practices that highlight west side neighborhoods and promote transformative spaces for healing and justice. As with all "generative projects," funds raised from Black Eutopia will be recycled into a pool for the next artist. Black Eutopia at Carter's Barbershop was the first iteration in a larger body of sound-based justice work by Rae Taylor, WSAC launch fund recipient and the creator of Black Eutopia . Rae plans to continue the project on Chicago's west side in an ongoing relationship with the community. Visit her work at

 Copyright 2013 Leah Gipson