About us

A COMMUNITY LIKE NO OTHER
 
We've been building a special space for you since 1975. We are newbies, pros, artists, makers, instructors, hobbyists, students, skeptics, and curious folks. We are babies, toddlers, teens, 20-70 somethings, retirees, and everything in between. No matter how you define yourself, our space is designed for all of us to work side-by-side in a friendly, supportive environment.

While we're constantly evolving, growing, and changing with the times, we're also believers in the age-old understanding that most things take a village. Come see for yourself! Our doors are open to the public every day. Stop in and tour our facility. Take a look into any of our classrooms and studios, and you'll see our active community helping each other to create fearlessly. 
 
 
HORSE BARN ROOTS
Since 1975, Lillstreet Art Center has been a community of artists and students working side-by-side. From the beginning, our intent has been to offer an alternative space to create, connect, and find community. Today, we still strive to build and maintain an environment that inspires artists to create fearlessly. Lillstreet Art Center supports the arts through a multifaceted arts education program, year-long artist residencies, art exhibition space, retail sales opportunities for artists, studio rentals, and arts-based professional development. 
 
In 2003, Lillstreet relocated from its long-time home — a converted horse barn on Lill Avenue in Lincoln Park — to a place in which we could truly grow. A former gear factory on Ravenswood Avenue offered us just that. Our 40,000 sq. ft. facility is a spacious, well-equipped art center offering art classes in over 20 classrooms. 
 
We offer adult classes & workshops for beginner to advanced students in six different departments: ceramicsmetalsmithing, jewelry & glasspainting & drawingprintmakingtextiles, and digital arts & photography. Each department offers First-Time Artist classes that help beginners to explore a new medium in a relaxed environment. Our Kidstreet program has classescamps, and family workshops for children and babies. Each year, Lillstreet welcomes over 2,000 campers to its week-long summer art camp programs. 
 
Our outstanding faculty brings a diverse collection of skills and experience to the classroom. Each faculty member will work closely with you in your class and offer instruction to the whole class and to the individual student.
 
We host events throughout the year, and we are happy to help you schedule your Chicago art party in a variety of mediums. From birthdays to bachelorette events, group outings, professional team building workshops, fundraising benefits, offsite work events, and more, we can creatively accommodate all ages and skill levels in our art studios and classrooms.
 
 
HERE TO HELP
Got questions? We've got answers. Customer service is an important part of the Lillstreet experience, and we're always here to help. Please visit our policies page for answers to most customer service questions that arise or email our front desk staff with any questions or comments.
 
If you don't see the information you're looking for here, or have additional questions, please visit our frequently asked questions page or contact us. There are so many ways to experience the unique, alternative spaces and community we offer. Stop in and visit the shop, take a self-guided tour, sign up for a class, or join in on any of our events and open houses (follow us on social media to stay in the know). We're sure there's a place for you at Lillstreet. 
 
 

Lillstreet Art Centers commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusivity

Lillstreet Art Center believes that artistic expression through ceramics, printmaking, book arts, metalsmithing, textiles, photography, drawing, and painting, should be available to all regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities. We believe that art-making is a universal process that has the power to bring communities together. Since our founding in 1975, we have dedicated ourselves to creating a space that is safe and welcoming for everyone in our community. To align our business with this mission, we have outlined our steps for action and accountability below.

Our Goals

  • Recruit instructors, staff, and gallery artists to reflect the broad diversity of Chicago. This is a slow, organic process intended to bring sustainable growth.
  • Partner with artistic and educational organizations from diverse communities.
  • Continue to develop bilingual classes, extending programming to each of our departments.
  • Commit to ongoing staff training in DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusivity) and active participation in our Ravenswood DEAI Committee

Our Programs

Merit-Based Scholarship for BIPOC Artists

In the Fall of 2020, Lillstreet Art Center launched a new merit-based scholarship program, initiated to support the creative development of emerging and established BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists working in Chicago. Awards are given for our Winter and Fall Sessions, and include full class tuition. Visit our Artist Opportunities page to learn how to apply. 

Financial Need-Based Scholarship

Lillstreet Art Center strives to eliminate financial barriers to art education with our year-round Financial Need Scholarship program. Scholarships are awarded every session (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Early Winter) on a rolling basis, with a goal to distribute available financial assistance to as many eligible students as possible. This scholarship is open to all, based on financial need. Visit our Artist Opportunities page to learn how to apply. 

Classes for Spanish Speakers (Clases para hispanohablantes)

In September of 2020, Lillstreet launched our first-ever First-Time Potter class with instruction given in English and Spanish. We have since extended our bilingual programming to include classes in our Textiles department, like First-Time Crochet, with a goal to extend programming to all departments.

En Septiembre del 2020, Lillstreet comenzamos nuestra primera clase de cerámica con instrucción en inglés y español. Desde Septiembre, hemos extendido nuestras programas para incluir clases en nuestro departamento textiles, como “Croché para Artistas Primerizas,” con una meta para extender nuestro programación a todos nuestros departamentos. 

Classes exploring LGBTQIA+ Themes

In 2019, Ceramics Resident Artist, Peter Ronan, introduced the first LGBTQIA+ topic exploration class at Lillstreet Art Center, Queer Clay, with the intention to strengthen connections in the queer community within Lillstreet. Since then, we have continued to offer other LGBTQIA+-focused classes, such as Rachel “Ranch” Ward’s, The Queer Line. We will continue developing and strengthening our inclusive programming in 2021.

Our Zero Tolerance Policy for Discrimination and Harassment

Lillstreet Art Center is committed to providing a supportive working and learning environment free from any form of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation of any type based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, social status, ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Failure to adhere to this policy will result in employment termination and/or the loss of the privilege to take a class at Lillstreet. To report an issue, please contact us at lillstreet@lillstreet.com. No retaliation of any kind will occur because you have reported an incident.

Our Partners

Misericordia

Misericordia offers a community of care that maximizes the potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are also physically challenged.  By serving society’s most vulnerable citizens, Misericordia also serves the families who want the best for them, yet cannot provide it at home. Misericordia residents are important citizens of the greater Chicago community. Some residents work regularly at Chicago businesses, including Lillstreet Art Center.

The Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce

Through our relationship with the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, our administrative staff attended a Creating Cultures of Racial Equity and Inclusivity workshop with The Morten Group in January of 2021. The Morten group focuses on organizational and resource development, including workshops on diversity and building communities of inclusion and access, racial equity integration and strategic planning, executive coaching and succession planning, and board recruitment and retention. Their work is nationally recognized for their significant experience in organizational assessment and training. This workshop focused on foundational DEI training for our neighborhood businesses in Ravenswood. Our conversations led to the creation of a chamber-sponsored DEI committee, which is currently in development. We will have more information to share soon.


We will continue to update this page with our progress in 2021.