Founded in 2004 by artists, educators, and activists, Chicago Art Department (CAD) grew out of a need to create space for artists to thrive in Chicago, fostering a spirit of community, collaboration, and inclusion for all individuals working toward civic change.

Today, CAD is an artist-run, BIPOC-led nonprofit with a mission to provide space and resources for civically-minded artists to grow their practice while questioning the city we live in. CAD provides equitable and accessible opportunities for artistic development through subsidized Studio Residencies, Collective Learning Cohorts, and contemporary Exhibitions and Programs rooted in justice.

For 20 years CAD has advanced creative Chicago voices that otherwise might not be heard. Collectively founded in 2004 and located in Pilsen since 2005, CAD’s physical space features 11,000 square feet comprising two public galleries, private studio space for up to 20 artists, and community event areas.

Since starting the Studio Residency Program in 2012, CAD has worked with over 100 Resident artists, and through partnerships and exhibitions, has exhibited works by over 1,000 artists. CAD aims to be a collective of diverse communities tied to each Resident artist and public program, creating a rich tapestry of community and culture working toward civic change.

With a mantra of TRY IT, MAKE IT, SHARE IT—CAD stands by advocacy for a more just society, and is committed to providing resources for the betterment of the city and culture we live in and call home—Chicago.


Chicago Art Department (CAD) has always been and continues to be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. CAD is open to all artists, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, gender identity, citizenship, geographic location, and income. Our board members, staff, and volunteers reflect our diverse community and are lead by a majority of BIPOC voices. CAD participates in equity workshops and  makes subsidized and fully-funded opportunities available to artists of color, non-binary people, and those with disabilities.