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Pay It Forward>>Johalla Projects


“These Moments” Installation by Matthew Hoffman at Pitchfork 2012.

Pay It Forward 
is a collaborative, experimental fundraiser devised by Autotelic {Studios} and Sixty Inches From Center. We are experimenting with the idea of paying it forward to other arts organizations who work to support artists and a thriving arts community in Chicago. Our Pay It Forward Series will highlight one of the eight projects that we have chosen to be part of our fundraiser each week, leading up to our Pay It Forward Fundraising Party + Housewarming on November 23rd, 7 PM at (our new fundraiser location!) FLATS Studio at 1050 W Wilson Ave.

This week we interviewed Anna Cerniglia at Johalla Projects. Committed to enabling art in public places across the city, Johalla is a collective of creators whose team-ups with other artists have resulted in some of Chicago’s best-beloved murals. Among their many current exhibitions is Stephen Eichhorn’s Climb/Reality at the Damen Blue Line stop, a depiction of imagined plantlife that New City profiled in last month’s “Best of Chicago” feature. Their own ongoing fundraiser, Pocket Change, is a continuing effort to fund similar pieces as well as less conventional works like Urban Dwellers, a pair of silver deer who briefly stood watch over Milwaukee Avenue just south of the Western Blue Line.

Sixty Inches From Center: How did you start?

Anna Cerniglia: Johalla Projects began in 2009 as live/work space and community arts incubator for up and coming local, contemporary artists.

SIFC: What is your mission?

AC: I established Johalla Projects in the fall of 2009 as a venue for emerging and mid-career artists. Prior to the founding of Johalla Projects, I ran South Union Arts for several years; after its closing, I felt a need to establish a home base for my curatorial work.  Located in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, Johalla Projects exhibits art of all mediums that excels beyond conventional expectations.  Working together with various artists and curators, we are the collective known as Johalla Projects.  As a collaborative project space, we are a haven for artists, curators, and patrons who desire to expand their aesthetic horizons.  Every exhibition undergoes a thoughtful selection process, assuring that each show presented at Johalla Projects is comprised of the finest contemporary work.

SIFC: What makes your project unique?

AC: Johalla Projects has an extensive public art program that works both in and with the local community to foster a respect and appreciation for new and exciting public exhibitions. Johalla Projects is also unique in that it is a collective of highly experienced individuals with substantial backgrounds in production, curation, exhibition planning, and development.

Nick Adam and Thor “Thunder Circus” Goodlife in collaboration with Johalla Projects, Home, 2010. Logan Square CTA Bus Terminal at Milwaukee and Kedzie.

SIFC: What is the one thing you want people to know about your organization?

AC: Johalla Projects is deeply invested in the Chicago public art scene and our involvement with Pocket Change is just one of the many ways in which we are assisting in streamlining the process for the funding of new and exciting public art projects.

SIFC: What are your goals, whats coming up?

AC: We are currently working on our exhibition calendar for 2014, as well as our numerous large-scale productions that have come to be expected from the Johalla Project team.

SIFC: How does the concept of paying it forward apply to what you do and your relationship to the Chicago arts community?

AC: Paying it forward is an inherent and integral component of the public art sphere. Those within the community are dedicated to not only raising awareness of and appreciation for contemporary art in general, but are also committed to engaging the public in a new dialogue that is directly impacted by the enhancement of their environment through public art installations.

SIFC: Why did you agree to be part of this fundraiser with Sixty and Autotelic?

AC: Johalla Projects is thrilled to join the talent behind Pocket Change, as we have always been supporters of Sixty’s dedication to the arts and, when we were initially approached, it just seemed like an easy, natural fit.

To find out more about Johalla Projects, visit  To donate to the Sixty & Autotelic {Studios} Pay It Forward fundraiser, CLICK HERE.

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