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.
Austin resident, Keli Stewart, is a writer and educator whose writing has appeared in Quiddity, Meridians, Warpland, amongst other notable journals and publications. Keli was recently selected as a 2021-2022 School of the Art Institute Nichols Tower Artist-in-Residence, where she will facilitate community storytelling and creative writing workshops. She has 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 was published with Bronzeville Books in 2021.
Amber Harris is passionate about her work and strives to be the best at what she does. She started as an intern with Front Porch Arts in Chicago's Lawndale area, and has quickly proved herself to be hardworking and reliable. In just four months, Amber had been promoted to a full-time position.
Born and raised on Chicago's Westside, Amber has been surrounded by great neighbors. She believes strongly in community and the importance of working together for positive change, which is why this internship is so important for her.