Raising an Invisible Monument

66 3Arts supporters
$6,342 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on September 20, 2019
    • 127% contributed

For several years I’ve been researching and teaching curriculum that focuses on the history of youth organizing for civil rights during the 1960-70s in Chicago. The important role that middle and high school students played in the movement is relatively unknown, and this is frustrating--yet I think of it as an opportunity! It’s what prompted me to begin developing an immersive art project called Raising an Invisible Monument in which students engage history using augmented reality and mobile devices. Augmented reality (AR) is when you view the real world through a mediating lens like a cell phone, but what you see is enhanced by a layer of digital information--for example, Pokemon Go! When I learned about AR, I thought it could be an amazing tool to engage students today with this history of youth organizing that took place in their city and even their own schools.  Much of the early work on this project has been done, including gathering historical material, piloting the curriculum with students at Benito Juarez Community Academy, and consulting with app developers through a Project Development Innovation Lab at the Magnum Foundation in New York City last spring. I’m now at a critical moment when funding is needed for me to bring this project to fruition, including convening with developers and digital artists to complete a beta version of the app that we can begin using in classrooms. Since piloting non-AR versions of the curriculum over the past four years, I know the content is incredibly compelling to the students. With your help we can bring them closer to this important history and the ways that their voices and actions can be powerful tools for justice.

About This Project

When I first started to learn about the student uprisings at Carter H. Harrison Technical High School it was through historical images I found in online auctions. I was astounded that I didn’t know, or wasn’t taught, about this crucial moment in Chicago history. At the same time, both my kids were in elementary school in that very same school building. At night I’d study the images, then the next morning I’d be there dropping off my kids at school. As I roamed the halls, I began to see the historical images overlaid in my mind, just like in AR technology.

What I learned from researching this period was that African American students demanded better schools in Chicago, specifically more homework, college counseling, more Black teachers and ethnic studies courses and programs after school. In September 1968, they organized weekly walkouts, and by October Mexican and Mexican American students joined their classmates. By mid-month, Black teachers joined and walked out, and their unified efforts is what brought the Chicago Board of Education to the negotiating table. The elementary school my children attend had been at the center of this resistance movement 50 years ago. No one had been teaching students about it because the history was not known, but this changed when I joined forces with a fantastic teacher named Paulina Camacho at Benito Juarez Community Academy High School to develop the curriculum. This history tells the incredible story of Black and Latinx coalition building. It’s also an example of student and teacher solidarity, which illustrates the power of intergenerational organizing. As I studied the images made by students, I began to wonder what it would be like to have students engage directly with this history through a platform like AR, where they can put themselves in the shoes of others their age from this time. Using writing, art, performance, and discussions, they can contemplate what they might have done, or not done, or what may have happened if those young people in 1963, or 1968, or 1973 hadn’t taken a stand.

This project means a lot to me as an artist-educator, a parent , and a Mexican American person who grew up without any Latinx teachers until my senior year of college. When I was a high school art teacher, and more recently during my research for this project, I have worked with mostly Latinx students teaching Black and Latinx history through artmaking. As an artist and teacher educator now, my work seeks to fill the gaps in our histories with powerful pasts so that we can imagine empowering futures. During this era of anti-immigrant rhetoric, it is important to have a broad historical perspective that includes victories against seemingly impossible odds. Students are scared and stressed right now; imagining themselves as empowered agents of positive change can be difficult. Looking at ways that contemporary artists envision the past and potential futures is an important part of the process of problem solving and accessing agency.

Providing that this campaign is successful, I will work with developers to create a beta version of this app. With teachers, I will integrate the immersive technology into the curriculum so that the pilot can be taught by Spring 2020. Thanks to your support, students will learn about the power of organizing and civic engagement by young people in Chicago. It is my hope that this project grows to encompass more schools and youth movements throughout Chicago, and that this is just the beginning!

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $25
    Thank you by name on my website ($25.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Personalized print-postcard and thank you by name on my website ($45.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Original, signed multi-color silkscreen print (8"x11") and thank you by name on my website ($85.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $250
    Sneak peek video of students engaging with the pilot technology, plus a print and a personal thanks on the website ($235.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Exclusive invitation to a live video chat with a virtual tour of the images, technology, and creative process, PLUS an original, signed silkscreen print about the historic events ($450.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $1000
    Invitation to a wine and cheese meet-n-greet with members of the creative team ($900.00 is tax deductible.)

Nicole Marroquin

Make a Wave Artist

Nicole Marroquin is a teacher, educator, and artist whose work explores belonging and spatial justice. She has been researching student uprisings in Chicago Public Schools dating between 1967-74. In 2018 she participated in a Project Development Innovation Lab at the Magnum …

View Nicole Marroquin's profile
  • Update 1: Gratitude
    Posted on August 17, 2019


    This campaign is off to a terrific start. I'm grateful for the 19 supporters who led the way by bringing this more than 20% of the way there in the first week! 

    In 2015, me and Paulina Camacho asked her classes, what would you have done if you went to a school where there was an 80% dropout rate for Latinx students? What would you have done if there was no curriculum that acknowledged your culture, or there were no teachers that looked like you or spoke your language? They responded with questions, letting us know what they needed to know in order to answer those questions. Over the course of that year, the young artists went out into the streets, performing site-oriented actions. 

    Below, students stand in front of of the lot where Froebel School had been since 1885, near the corner of 21st and Damen. 

    students stand in the site where Froebel School once stood at 21st street and Damen, holding a large printed image of  the school

    When our history isn't written in a book or found in an archive, the community is our library. People and their memories are our text. 

    • Thank you to the following for contributing to 3Arts with the recommendation that we support this project.

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 Additional support provided by: 

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