Jim Duignan is an artist and professor of Visual Art in the College of Education at DePaul University. He started the Stockyard Institute in 1995 as an artist project and neighborhood institute in the Back of the Yards community of south Chicago to work with troubled youth. The Stockyard Institute was influenced by an awareness of neighborhood histories and an unknown group of community artists, architects, radical teachers, and local activists where a consideration of the social and civic forms of engagement were as critical to their practice as to their lives. Jim Duignan’s work has been exhibited in the U.S. and Europe including Allgirls Gallery and ACUD space in Berlin, Germany, rum46, Aarhus, Denmark, Galeria de la Escuela de Artes Plasticas in the Republic of Puerto Rico, P74, Llubljiana, Slovenia, Mess Hall, Chicago and published in the New Art Examiner, Artforum, Chicago Reader, Whitewalls, Proximity Magazine, Palm Press, AREA Chicago, Green Lantern Press, Set Up Tolerance and the New York Times.
There is always a search for transmissions in my work. The studio work comments on my history in Chicago, using a narrative that resembles forms from memorials and archives to ritual and biography. Whether I am writing or drawing, constructing small signs or large sculptures around Chicago or working alongside youth, stories, local history and honest interpretations of experience thread every project. A conscious commitment to meaningful civic engagement and using the tools to develop a voice remains a primary objective. My youth was preoccupied with locating a place for myself, traversing Chicago and looking for peace, answers and equanimity that today has provided a deeper analysis and sharper perspective on the kind of city I wish to live in. Using writing, sculpture, small books, organizing and teaching I develop with groups, better examples of meaningful ways of working with and alongside others, to build and share stories and imagine what it means to answer questions that still stir from the earliest of memories and experiences.