Front Porch Arts Center is more than a solution to the Austin neighborhood's need for a public art center. It is the epicenter for connecting the arts, community, and culture while celebrating the history of the Westside of Chicago.
For over a decade, the Austin neighborhood's creative landscape has been absent of public investment in the arts.
Front Porch Arts Center fills a much-needed void by creating arts programming, which includes enriching workshops, performances, exhibitions, while forming artists and community partnerships.
Westside native, Keli Stewart, is a writer and educator whose writing has appeared in Quiddity, Meridians, Warpland, Hip Mama, On Becoming, Calyx and other journals and publications. Keli received artist fellowships from Hedgebrook, where she was awarded the 2010 Adrienne Reiner Hochstadt Award, and the Augusta Savage Gallery Arts International Residency Program. An alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation and Callaloo Summer Writing Workshops, Keli’s writing was selected first place in the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award from the Illinois Center of the Book, chosen by Illinois poet laureate Kevin Stein.
A graduate of Providence St. Mel Highschool, she received her BA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College in 2002, her MFA in Poetry from Chicago State University, and pursued doctoral work in Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where she studied with notable artists, activists, and scholars.
Keli served as a Leadership Lab Fellow with the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. She is also the founder of Westside Arts House, selected as part of the Alliance of Artists Communities Emerging Program Institute.
Her poetry collection, Small Altars is forthcoming from Bronzeville Books in 2021. Keli lives in the Austin community with her two sons.
Hi, my name is Aiyanna Hilton. I am a junior in college attending the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am majoring in English Education and a member of the Track and Field team. I am a poet in the making. I have a love for romantic comics and movies. During my free time, I skateboard along the never-ending streets of Chicago.