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

Courtyard Exhibition

Resistance Architecture by Project Fielding

May - October, 2017

Project Fielding presents Resistance Architecture - an adaptable structure intended for political encampment that can be erected to fulfill the needs of long-term protesters. In recognition of a political climate which demands sustained resistance, Project Fielding led a design build workshop developing two identical structures- one that responded to the direct requests of those at Standing Rock, and this structure, which will be used as an adaptable shelter for long-term protesters in other contexts and for exhibition and workshop purposes. 


This past year we witnessed the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota occupy and protect sacred land and water from oil pipeline development. Project Fielding teachers were inspired by the building efforts of groups like the Dakota Youth Council, who designed, built and assembled site and climate responsive, winter-ready shelters in collaboration with tribal members to enable long-term encampment through frigid winters on the plains. In communication with members of the International Indigenous Youth Council who were actively resisting at Sacred Stone camp at Standing Rock, we learned that there was a persistent need for flexible, secure structures that could function in multiple ways: ie, a shelter to house a composting toilet, a shed to house a generator, a space for storage. 


In conjunction with Oak Park events celebrating the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright we responded to our current political climate with a reflective eye to student-built survival dorms at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in the Sonoran Desert. Project Fielding instructors in collaboration with students designed and built a physically adaptive structure that functions in two positions: open and in lockdown. When in lockdown, the structure serves as a locker or a safe. When open, the structure is a spacious and ready to use shelter.

Project Fielding is an organization that empowers women and gender variant people of all ages through workshops that teach them to competently and confidently use hand and power tools. Project Fielding was born from the desire to break gender-pejorative attitudes and societal judgement about gender roles and capabilities in the building trades. Through their work in creating large-scale building projects, Project Fielding deflects unwelcome assumptions and defines new directions in the field of building. Built by women and gender non-conforming carpenters of all levels, this structure will travel to sites of resistance.

More about Project Fielding

Project Fielding teachers: Sara Black, Billy Dee, Amber Ginsburg, Caroline Robe, Lia Rousset, Miriam Stevens, Donesha Thompson

Workshop Participants:

Baci Weiler, Carrie Heckel, Xiili Bassett, Zavi Engels, Nisha Bala, Maura Kinney, Erin Gernon, Kayla Ginsburg, and Kelsey Watters. 

Over the Wall

October 14 - November 4, 2016

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 hand made ceramic, depicting 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.

Artist Statement:

Suffering from emotional pain and severe anxiety can be as unbearable as physical pain, yet we don’t see it. One’s suffering can often be dismissed, or worse, not believed and berated as a moral weakness. As artists who struggle with mental illness, we are telling our stories and trying to confront the scourge of stigma. Art can serve to heal when one suffers emotional and psychic pain. These paintings, sculptures, and drawings bring to light the reality of wounds that others cannot see

or understand. There is dignity in having your pain recognized and understood. Art provides a space beyond the stigma associated with mental illness, where one has voice to express their unique vision and strength.

Garden of Good

April 10 - September 30, 2016

Sylvia Shaw Judson Sculpture Exhibition in the Oak Park Art League Garden Courtyard.

Prairies, woods and country vistas surrounded Sylvia Shaw Judson in her childhood home, Ragdale, designed in 1897 as a family summer retreat on Chicago’s North Shore by her architect father Howard Van Doren Shaw. The bucolic landscape set the tone for Judson’s lifelong artistic pursuits as a sculptor, creating garden statuary that captured the serenity of the natural environment. Her graceful sculptural forms can be found in public parks and private gardens across America, including Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Botanic Garden, the White House Rose Garden, Boston Commons, and Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park. Judson’s celebrated Bird Girl (1936) was made famous on the cover of the 1994 best-selling novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Terrain Biennial

August 23 - September 30, 2015

As a hub for creativity, it is not surprising that Oak Park is a place called "home" for many artists and art educators and we at OPAL are very excited to be included in an upcoming creative placemaking project spearheaded by Columbia College professor, artist and Oak Park resident - Sabina Ott.  In August, Ott's Terrain Biennial exhibition will partner artists and curators to create site-specific public art, situated in yards and on porches across Oak Park and in other cities across the country.  Through this unique project, Ott will bring contemporary art practice into the daily lives of our vibrant community, which will foster dialogue and active engagement about art in an accessible way - through the neighborhoods where we live.  Ott hopes to gain the attention of what she calls "incidental viewers" - those out on a neighborhood stroll, who stumble into these art-infused sites that are meant to both provoke conversation and offer opportunity for developing an aesthetic.  How fantastic for neighborhood kids, right?!


In OPAL's role as a host site, Sabina will be partnering us with curator, SAIC professor and artist Tom Burtonwood (, who has selected Chicago artist Bernard Williams ( to bring his large-scale sculpture to our garden courtyard.  

Sculptural Awareness

April 30 - August 1, 2015

Features the work of five local artists whose contributions to OPAL's courtyard exhibition both engage with nature and raise awareness about environmental concerns. Woven work by Oak Park fiber artist Karen Gubitz ornaments a parkway tree, her chosen materials made of the earth and give back to the earth as the sculpture naturally deteriorates.  Oak Park sculptor Margot McMahon's avian-themed trio perch on a fallen branch and deliver a message about the state of our natural environment.  Chicago sculptor Josh Garber's large-scale sculpture of tree branches and plastic shrink wrap speaks of human consumption and how mankind intersects with the natural world.  Oak Park artist Susan Nadis knits with recycled plastic bags and T-shirts to create three-dimensional complex forms that echo a natural river along the garden fence (June installation). Oak Park glass artist Bryan Northup uses recycled glass bottles as vessels for history - glass "pods" with a collection of notes, artifacts, mementos and other ephemera contributed from OPAL Artist Members, which at the conclusion of the exhibition will serve as a time capsule and go below grade for a future unearthing at the Art League's Centennial in 2021 (Installation mid-May).

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