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Photo credit: Claire Demos
Photo credit: Claire Demos

The MAKER Grant is an annual award opportunity for Chicago-based contemporary visual artists who demonstrate a commitment to a sustainable artistic practice and career development.

Specifically, the grant recognizes that Chicago is home to a unique and thriving ecology of engaged and socially-conscious makers, who often work outside of traditional forms or without commercial support. MAKER grant, therefore, endeavors to honor these artists whose work actively engages with social and/or environmental issues—with an eye towards using the strategies, beauty, and meaning of art-making for positive change.

MAKER Grant’s unrestricted $3000 and $1000 annual grants are intended to recognize two exceptional artists working in this way, and support the advancement of their artistic careers.

This grant is funded by a portion of proceeds from the Chicago Artists Coalition’s annual Starving Artist fundraiser and a matching contribution from OtherPeoplesPixels. MAKER Grant recognizes both the CAC’s and OPP’s mutual commitments to supporting local artists’ practices and professional development.

About OtherPeoplesPixels
OtherPeoplesPixels is a portfolio website service designed for artists by artists—and is dedicated to helping artists and cultural makers share their creative work with the world. Founded in 2005, OPP has remained an independently run, triple-bottom line company, and continues to support arts, environmental & social justice initiatives through The OtherPeoplesPixels Fund and initiatives like the MAKER Grant.



In addition to financial support, Maker Grant awardees receive:

  • Published interviews and promotion through CAC and OPP communications, including a feature on CAR-Chicago Artists Resource & the OPP blog.
  • A one-year CAC artist membership.
  • ‘Lifetime’ OPP portfolio exceptional services.
  • Two tickets to attend CAC’s Starving Artist fundraiser on Thursday, April 14, 2016.  Winners will be recognized at the event.


In 2016, this grant is open to visual artists who meet the following criteria:

  • Artists whose work actively engages with social and/or environmental issues, with an eye towards positive change.
  • Artists who can show that they are at a defining moment to achieve growth in their creative and professional careers.
  • Artists who demonstrate a strong and active engagement with, and professional commitment to, their artistic practice.
  • Artists whose work as cultural makers impacts the development of art and culture in a meaningful way.


Applicants must be:

  • A U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • A resident of the Chicagoland region (includes outlying suburbs within a 30 mile radius of Chicago)
  • At least 21 years old
  • NOT  currently enrolled in a degree-granting program or its equivalent
  • NOT an applicant or collaborator on more than one proposed project


Submissions are evaluated by a jury of three professional peers from leading cultural institutions in Chicago, as well as representatives from Chicago Artists Coalition and OtherPeoplePixels.

2016 MAKER Grant Application is now closed. Application deadline was Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

2016 MAKER Grant Jury:

Lisa Yun Lee is the Director of the School of Art & Art History, a visiting curator at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, and a member of the Art History, Museum and Exhibition Studies, and Gender and Women's Studies faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Lisa is also the co-founder of The Public Square at the Illinois Humanities Council, an organization dedicated to creating spaces for dialogue and dissent and for reinvigorating civil society. She has published a book on Frankfurt School philosopher Theodor Adorno titled, Dialectics of the Body: Corporeality in the Philosophy of Theodor Adorno (Routledge, 2004), and researches and writes about museums and diversity, cultural and environmental sustainability, and spaces for fostering radically democratic practices. Lisa received her BA in Religion from Bryn Mawr College, and a PhD in German Studies from Duke University. She is the Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at UIC, and she serves on the national boards of the American Alliance of Museums, Imagining America: Artists & Scholars in Public Life, the Ms. Magazine Adviory Board, and the boards of Rebuild Foundation, the National Public Housing Museum, Young Chicago Authors, 3Arts, and the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Rebecca Zorach (Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1999) teaches and writes on early modern European art (15th-17th century), contemporary activist art, and art of the 1960s and 1970s. Particular interests include print media, feminist and queer theory, theory of representation, ​​and the multiple intersections of art and politics.

Before joining the faculty at Northwestern she taught at the University of Chicago for fourteen years. She has been a visiting faculty member at Yale University, the École des Hautes Études in Sciences Sociales, and Williams College, where she was Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor in 2013-14. Her books include Blood, Milk, Ink, Gold: Abundance and Excess in the French Renaissance (2005); The Passionate Triangle(2011); the edited volumes Embodied Utopias: Gender, Social Change, and the Modern Metropolis (with Amy Bingaman and Lisa Shapiro Sanders, 2002), The Idol in the Age of Art (with Michael Cole, 2009), and Art Against the Law (2014); and the exhibition catalogues Paper Museums: The Reproductive Print in Europe 1500-1800 (with Elizabeth Rodini, 2005) and The Virtual Tourist in Renaissance Rome: Printing and Collecting the Speculum Romanae Magnificentiae (2008).

Recent articles have addressed AfriCOBRA’s gender and family politics; Claes Oldenburg’s lawsuit challenging the copyright of the Chicago Picasso; and the experimental art center Art & Soul, founded on the west side of Chicago in 1968 by the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Conservative Vice Lords, a former street gang. She is currently completing on a book on Art & Soul and the landscape of the Black Arts Movement in Chicago (late 1960s-1970s), and undertaking a new project that will consider the relationship of artistic and political agency to natural and social ecologies. She is a member of Feel Tank Chicago, is on the board of the South Side Community Art Center and South Side Projections, and co-organizes the archive and oral history project Never The Same with Daniel Tucker (

Latham Zearfoss is an artist and cultural producer living and working in Chicago. His artwork often centers on reclaiming historical and mythological texts, and revising them to incorporate radical notions of love and sex, possibility and probability. His commitment to art and activism has also manifested in the creation of sporadic, temporary utopias like Pilot TV and Chances Dances. Latham graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a BFA in 2008 and the University of Illinois at Chicago with an MFA in 2011. He has exhibited his work internationally and all over the U.S.