Welcome to Community Garden Plot #22!

Being in Chicago, we’re no strangers to the magical art of gardens. This year, Lillstreet has joined the Montrose Metra Community Garden, and we’re so excited to bring this experiential learning to our arts-based classes.

In our first Kidstreet camp visit to plot #22, we learned how garden experiences can increase our knowledge of art and creativity.  Faith Zabin, Lillstreet’s resident gardener, taught our Bugs & Butterflies campers a lot of things we didn’t know!


What kind of plants do we grow?

One of Lillstreet’s goals is to use the garden to inspire creativity and the senses. Many of the plants we grow support sensory experiences:

  • Smell: Herbs & Flowers
  • Taste: Vegetables & Herbs
  • Touch: Plants with great textures (Lambs Ear = Fuzzy!)
  • See: Colorful flowers, plants we can use for natural dyes and bugs hard at work!
  • Hear: Trains! We learn how a garden can co-exist with life in the city.


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What can a garden teach us?

Gardens are pretty amazing in that they teach us across disciplines. Gardens provide lessons in:


Gardens provide an inspiration of the senses. Understanding the garden as an art form – its colors, design, architecture and functionality – aids in developing a unique, creative perspective.



We learn lessons in nature, including biological processes from seed to fruit, symbiotic relationships between plants and insects, nutrition and biodiversity.

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In a garden, we find an interactive way to bring numbers to life – including counting seeds, measuring plant spacing, and calculating days to harvest from dates planted.



Gardens give us all a broader view of our community. They show us how to giving back to the community with harvests,  and support social connections such as  cooperation, responsibility, sharing, taking turns, and respect for others and nature.

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We look forward to bringing Lillstreet to our garden (and the garden to Lillstreet!). Thanks to the efforts of the Montrose Metra Community Garden, which is part of the Chicago Community Gardners Association. Click here to learn more about their initiative.


Meet Kidstreet Director, Anna Lentz

Anna received her MFA in Arts Education from SAIC, and is passionate about experimental learning. As an artist herself, she believes that making and thinking about art encourages students to see, question and think about our natural worlds in a way that may be alternative, new and even critical of their social, political and cultural forces that influence our natural places.



Meet Lillstreet’s Resident Gardner, Faith Zabin

Faith Zabin is a Chicago-based organic gardener who loves to teach people of all ages how to grow their own food. She currently maintains the flower, herb and vegetable gardens at Lillstreet Art Center. She also grows for local chefs and private clients. Visit vivantgardens.com or email faith@vivantgardens.com to learn more.





Why We Love Art Camp

Lillstreet has offered art classes for kids since 1986. Here, young artists have always had the unique opportunity to use the same processes, facilities and professional equipment that adult artists use. The summer is no exception. Any day of the week, our art campers cross paths with professional artists creating in their own studios, building their own practices and collaborating with others. It’s authentic, project-based learning at its best.

Year after year, the camp season brings a sense of excitement and artistic adventure to Lillstreet. This is our favorite time of year because all summer long, our campers are:

GAINING INDEPENDENCE At camp, kids are empowered with the responsibility of taking risks and making their own decisions in a safe environment. Young artists are invited and encouraged to shape their own worlds.


BUILDING A SENSE OF COMMUNITY Art communities are strong at any age, and Lillstreet has valued that for over 40 years. Here, artists of every age join a close-knit group where everyone must agree to be patient as they learn side-by-side, share and respect each other’s creative voice.


SPARKING NEW INTERESTS Campers explore new activities and programs that could turn into lifelong passions. With so much to do at art camp (ceramics, metals, jewelry, digital arts, photography, painting, drawing) there are countless programs kids can discover this summer and next.


IMAGINING, PRACTICING, CREATING Kidstreet has always valued the creative process over the end product itself.  Students learn how to think on their feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box.’ This sense of innovation will be important throughout their entire lives.


Every summer, Kidstreet camps encourage kids and teens to create fearlessly, positively and without competition. Many of our campers become lifelong learners and stay within the Lillstreet community into adulthood.

We love seeing creative accomplishment every day, but summer camp reminds us that these accomplishments will last a lifetime. 


Kids Camp – Metals

Metalworking is a great skill to learn–especially at a Summer Kid’s Camp! Not only is metalworking artistic, fun, and exhilarating, but many useful things can be made with metal (Clocks, boxes, and night-lights to name a few) and these kids are learning how! Learning how to work with metals is a truly unique experience as shown in the pictures below.


The Work Space

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The blue tube shown on the left is metal lubricant. The saw blade is drawn across the surface of the tube in order to cut the metal smoothly. After the metal is cut into the desired shape, the edges are smoothed with a file.


Using a Hand Saw


Drilling Holes


Changing Color with a Blow Torch

The metal must be washed before it is fired with a blow torch. Depending on the type of metal being used, the blow torch alters the metal’s chemistry making gradients in purple, green, and orange.

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Installing Working Clock Parts


The hands and the “Movement” (back piece) are installed on the metal face of the clock.

Finished Metal Projects

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For more information about Kid’s Camps, visit the list of Classes on Lillstreet’s Website.

Wheel Throwing Kids Camp

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Air Bubbles are removed from the clay in a process called wedging.


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Water is added to the clay to make it easier to shape and transform.


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Finished bowls ready to be fired and glazed!



Here, Karen demonstrates all the steps that need to be taken to make a small bowl. This shape is the foundation for all different types of pottery.


Check out the List of Summer Camps on Lillstreet’s Website!

Movie Making Kid’s Camp

The Movie Making Camp has just begun! When I entered the computer lab, the movie-makers were already brainstorming together in groups of three, and creative energy was flowing through the room. They were writing down ideas for imagined projects, creating story boards, and making props for their imagined product’s commercial.

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Practice Makes Perfect!

Group #1 was practicing lines and simulating camera movements and angles…

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…While Group #2 was learning how to film using a tripod…

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…And Group #3 was recording shots for their invisible shoe commercial!

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More information about Movie Making can be found under Kidstreet Classes and Camps on Lillstreet’s Website.

Cosmic Constructions

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Things get a little sci-fi and a lot artsy in Cosmic Constructions, where kids have the opportunity to make their very own Intergalactic creations out of clay. Aliens, Galaxies, Shooting stars and more litter the tables, and like real outer space they just keep expanding. Teachers Sarah Alvin and Naomi Saito keep the creative juices flowing through sketching and brainstorming with the kids, there isn’t a minute wasted with this class.

We’re looking forward to seeing how these pieces look fired and ready to go!

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Movie Making

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In Movie Making, Kids get the chance to write, direct and star in their own short films. Today, we popped in and got to see behind the scenes, and all of the work and play that goes into making good movies.

These kids are on their way to being movie making professionals with the help of Jessi Meliza and Evan Silver as their instructors, we’d love to see the final movies when they’re done!

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All Things Messy

In the Kidstreet Summer Camps, kids have a chance to experience and learn about art, socialize and have fun. In this camp, All Things Messy, the mess was at a surprising minimum. When we visited, the kids were doing contour drawings of a vase with teacher Julie Christou, most likely to be translated into some the much less neat and tidy later.

It looked like a lot of fun, we thought we’d see some Pollock-esque paint slinging, but they saved the best for later – we’ll have to visit them again to see what they’re up to next time!

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T-Shirt Factory Screenprinting Camp!!


It seemed like winter would never end when the full force of the #PolarVortex was swirling it’s wicked winds through Chiberia, but lo and behold, Summer Camps started, and the weather is beautiful!

It’s so much fun to see all the campers back in Lillstreet, getting creative and inspired. We sent Zuri to make some photos of some of the camps and one we had to share right away was the T-Shirt Factory.

This camp is just way too much fun to keep it under wraps and Nora Renick-Rinehart is doing an awesome job teaching the campers how to get creative with screen printing. Check it out!

Here the group is paying close attention to the master as she explains screen mesh count.

Here the group is paying close attention to the master as she explains image prep.

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