March Member Spotlight: LATITUDE Chicago

Left: Lab Director, Adam Schachner, works with Lab Assistants building printing profiles, photo by Colleen Keihm. Right: Technical Director and Piezography Instructor, Alex Wieder, works with students, photo by Rachel Schafer.

Founded as a photography organization in 2012, LATITUDE Chicago continues to evolve to reflect the many ways people create and consume images in 2020. Described as a nonprofit community digital lab, the organization maintains a high-tech printing lab, operates an artist in residence program, and organizes a range of arts programming.

“Our focus is on education and production in imagery,” says Executive Director Colleen Keihm. “I believe photography is transitioning into more of a social practice, not just an art form.”

Part of that focus includes creating an open community for artists of all types of experience to work on their craft. In addition to the artist residency, creatives can serve as volunteer lab assistants helping to run the lab and apply for fellowships, which are paid positions that support LATITUDE’s education, programming, and community outreach.

“For those who aren’t quite sure of arts as a profession, I like to think of us as a place to have a kind of ‘gap year,’ notes Keihm. “A place to keep learning, to express a creative side, and then to go on to whatever is next.”

This year, LATITUDE is launching a new program initiative for high school students. The Artist in Residence: Education and Development (AIR/ED) program will bring two student artists into the lab to work on their projects and receive training and support from staff and volunteers. The program promotes access for an art form that has a history of upholding inequities.

“If we want to cause change, we need to offer education earlier and more often,” reflects Keihm. “The perk for every resident, including high school residents, is that after they finish their residency, they get free membership for life.”

LATITUDE has a full slate of exciting programming lined up for the next few months, including workshops, info sessions, and free events with each month’s artist in residence. Be sure to follow their newsletter or Instagram for those announcements.

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