Closed Sunday-Monday

1-5 pm Tuesday-Friday 
1-4 pm Saturday  

720 Chicago Ave. 
Oak Park, Illinois 60302 
(708) 386-9853 

The Oak Park Art League is partially funded by grants from the Oak Park Area Arts Council and the Illinois Arts Counci Agency.

©2019 by Oak Park Art League


Consisting of lectures, exhibits and workshops presenting topics that bring attention to both global and local concerns through the universal language of art. As an instrument for raising awareness, art has the power to engender equality, heal, and influence attitudinal change, and the Art League’s intimate gallery provides a space and forum for stimulating public dialogue and motivating civic action.

Accompanying our ART FOR SOCIAL CHANGE exhibitions are a series of linked events to engage broader audiences in the community. 

Art for Social Change: Sanctuary

The Oak Park Art League's 
Art for Social Change: SANCTUARY
National Exhibition of Postcard Art

EXHIBITION DATES: May 11 – June 1, 2018
OPENING RECEPTION: May 11, 2018 7-9p

In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Ordinance (1968) and addressing current Sanctuary City political rhetoric, the Oak Park Art League presents an exhibition of postcards from across the nation that explore legislative policies of past and present that support diversity, inclusion, racial equity, human rights and express historical narratives, current contexts, or creative concepts for safe havens, sanctuary cities, and fair housing in the places and communities they call home. 

The postcards will be featured in OPAL’s May 2018 exhibition Sanctuary and sold for $35 each during the exhibition run, with the full collection on display at the Preview Party on May 10, 7-9 pm. As a fundraiser, guests and collectors go home with an original work of art and a percentage of the proceeds from postcard sales will benefit ProBono Network in support of those in dire need of civil legal assistance and Oak Park Regional Housing Center for research and advocacy in Fair Housing. The backs of postcards will be stamped and dated to document exhibit participation. A curated selection of postcards will be presented in an online gallery on the Oak Park Art League’s website. A limited number of works will be selected for permanent collections at OPAL, the Oak Park/River Forest Museum, and Chicago's Newberry Library.


RESIST! A Visual History of Protest

 In conjunction with:Oak Park Art League's Art for Social Change: SANCTUARY National Exhibition of Postcard Art an exhibit of artworks by FRANKLIN MCMAHON, Artist Reporter

EXHIBITION DATES: May 11 – June 1, 2018

About Franklin McMahon: World renown Artist Reporter, Franklin McMahon was at the forefront of social change since parachuting from a B17 into WWII Germany.
A selection of McMahon's works covering the Emmett Till Trial, 
Civil Rights Movement, Politics, World Studio, Vatican II, 
War and Housing Protests, Chicago Conspiracy Trial 
will be featured in this exhibition.


For more information please visit:

We Are Enough

In this 21st Century digital age of social media and handheld photo editors, we are inundated with images of our friends, family and cultural icons. One would think this proliferation of photographs would generate a greater acceptance of varying body types. But more than ever, images are projected in the gaze of societal norms and conventions of what is beautiful and ideal. The differences and imperfections that make a human body unique reveal much about one's personal narrative and rarely align with the common standard of young, slim, white, able and whole. 


As part of the Oak Park Art League's Art for Social Change initiative, We are Enough calls for art that explores the many facets of body image and its relationship to self-acceptance and love. How is one's body image affected by inherent differences such as race, gender, sexuality, form and disability; or by changes due to aging, illness, or major surgery? We are looking for art of any media that explores issues of body image and self-worth.


Related Programs & Exhibits

Exhibit: Solidarity & Survivorship

In partnership with Keep-a-Breast Foundation, Solidarity & Survivorship presents an exhibit of artist-customized plaster torso casts that express the strength and beauty of survivorship and the esprit de corps of loyal supporters. 


Founded in 2000, Keep-a-Breast Foundation (KABF) located in Los Angeles, California, is a leading youth-focused, global, nonprofit organization that uses art and education programs to raise awareness of methods of prevention and early detection of breast cancer. To reach their target audience of young women, KABF partners with influencers that include celebrities, rock stars, and athletes, who stand in solidarity with breast cancer survivors by lending their torsos to plaster-casting projects. The plaster casts transform the traditional canvas to participatory sculpture, which is then customized by artists and used as conversation starters, awareness builders and fundraising tools for Keep-a-Breast Foundation. KABF castees for Solidarity & Survivorship, include sixOlympic snowboard athletes. Participants from OPAL’s casting workshop include five women from the local community, who boldly come forth to share their stories about survivorship in support of breast cancer awareness.


Exhibit: Blessings for All

Artist, educator and printmaker, Teresa Parker’s interactive installation of a traditional Madonna figure invites viewers to write a note of healing or leave a blessing for a loved one braving the challenges of cancer. 


Workshop: Knitted Knockers 
Monday, October 23, 6:30-9:00pm in the OPAL gallery

Knitted Knockers are soft, light weight breast prosthetics that are comfortable for women who have undergone breast cancer surgeries. Knitters are invited to join this workshop to learn the pattern and create Knitted Knockers for breast cancer survivors. $5 material fee.


Courtyard Exhibition: Resistance Architecture

Resistance Architecture is an adaptable structure intended for political encampments, built by Project Fielding; an organization that empowers women and gender variant individuals of all ages through workshops that teach how to competently and confidently use power tools to create large-scale social justice projects.


Founded by Sara Black, Billy Dee, Amber Ginsburg, Miriam Stevens and Donesha Thompson and expanded to involve Caroline Robe and Lia Rousset,Project Fielding leads workshops for female identified and gender variant individuals to learn to design and build structures and use woodworking tools competently and confidently. Created from the desire to break gender-pejorative attitudes and society judgement about gender roles and capabilities in the building trades, Project Fielding creates large-scale projects motivated by social justice concerns, while deflecting unwelcome assumptions and defining new directions in the field of building. 


Art for Social Change exhibits and programs are made possible through grant funding from the Oak Park/River Forest Community Foundation, 19th Century Charitable Foundation, Oak Park Area Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council, and generous support from local businesses, including: Bliss Fashion Lounge, Lively Running, Matter of Style, Olive & Well, Team Blonde, Todd & Holland, and Winberie’s Restaurant

Behind the Wall

Facilitating conversation and promoting awareness about various social issues such as domestic violence and mental illness is the goal for the Oak Park Art League (OPAL)’s month long program in October. Inviting public dialogue through the universal language of art, OPAL opens “Art for Social Change: Behind the Wall,” with its Oct. 14 artist reception and Oct. 14 – Nov. 4 exhibit run.

Portraying journeys and stories that range from conflict to recovery, each event brings its own theme to the forefront of social conversations. The month long schedule of events includes:

“Art for Social Change: Behind the Wall” Exhibit

Friday, Oct. 14 – Friday, Nov. 4

The juried exhibit features artwork from artists across Chicagoland that raise awareness to journeys of conflict, pain, empowerment and peace. It is through a partnership with Sarah’s Inn, whose services and initiatives focus on ending relationship violence through domestic violence crisis intervention, community education and violence prevention programs for youth, that OPAL presents the work to the public. The working title “Behind the Wall,” refers to the isolation and suffering that victims of domestic violence experience in their private lives, as well as the healing gained in the recovery process that brings the work to the walls of OPAL’s Carriage House Gallery.

The juror of the show, Charles Gneich, holds a MFA and BFA from Northern Illinois University. He has taught at various universities for more than twenty-five years; including The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, where he also served as Curator of Gallery 180 and the Collections Curator for the Institute’s Corporate Fine Art Collection. Gniech’s traveling exhibition, “Breaking Criminal Traditions,” utilizes nonthreatening art objects that raise awareness to human rights issues to promote social change. He has participated in multiple panel discussions on human rights topics and presented “Change Artists-Using the Arts to Leverage Change” at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, 60th Session.

Cairn & Cloud: A Collective Expression of Trauma and Hope

Friday, Oct. 14 – Friday, Nov. 4

A centerpiece of the “Behind the Wall” exhibition will be a sculpture installation presented in collaboration with Corinne D. Peterson, director of the Cairn Project. The sculpture is comprised of hand-carved clay objects created by more than 200 women, men, and teens who participated in Peterson’s 47 Shaping Clay, Shaping Life workshops. Participants formed the clay rocks to incorporate their memories of trauma and created porcelain tokens to represent their inner light. Viewed together, the dark rocks and white clouds stand for the transformation of individual experiences of loss into a collection expression of healing.

“Over the Wall” Courtyard Exhibit

Friday, Oct. 14 – Sunday, Nov. 20

In partnership with Thresholds, an organization that provides healthcare, housing and hope for thousands of people with mental illnesses, OPAL presents this courtyard exhibit that is built by artists whom are in recovery related to trauma and struggle with emotional and cognitive disorders. The “wall” is a structure created with wood and handmade ceramic, depicting a mural of words associated with trauma and healing. The mural focuses on the difficult process of healing, which includes ups and downs, setbacks and progress. Hidden behind the wall is a refuge lined in synthetic fur to represent a safe space.

Storytelling Café: Voice Box

Sunday, October 23, 4:00 to 6:00pm
OPAL partners with Maureen Muldoon and Cathy Richardson of Voice Box for a Sunday afternoon café in the OPAL gallery, which features curated storytelling with a music response that interplays with exhibition artwork to cultivate a deeper understanding of complex narratives. $20 admission includes coffee and dessert.

“Artists are working in new, challenging areas that often reflect on the human condition in our society affected by illness and disease, violence, disability, poverty or homelessness. As change agents, artists are often at the forefront of such issues, becoming the voice of the voiceless, raising awareness, and making complex issues accessible through their artwork and social media.Through “Art for Social Change” programs, the Oak Park Art League’s intimate gallery provides a space and forum for stimulating public dialogue and motivating civic action, while elevating awareness of our community’s important social service agencies” said Julie Carpenter, executive director of the Oak Park Art League.

It is in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Illinois Arts and Humanities Month in October, that OPAL brings its “Art for Social Change” month long program to the public. Sponsors of “Art for Social Change” programs include: Rotary Club of Oak Park-River Forest, Oak Park Arts Council, Riveredge Hospital, Illinois Humanities, and the Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency.

Cheryl Jefferson The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions

Introduced as a Tedx Talk in 2013, Jefferson now brings this lecture to the Oak Park Art League for our first Art for Social Change event, as she presents the compelling artwork and narratives associated with this controversial subject matter. Cheryl’s coproducer, artist Richard Laurent, will present his own body of work for BCT and discuss his approach for creating artwork and narratives that instill social change.

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