Sixty’s team has produced projects involving archives, editorial work, curation, exhibitions, panels, residencies, writers meet-ups, critique groups, festivals, and more. View a selection of our projects below and visit our Partnerships page if you’re interested in collaborating with us.
The Chicago Archives + Artists Project
Launched in 2017, the Chicago Archives + Artists Project pairs artists with archives across Chicago to spark new experiments in creative interpretation, to showcase the rich histories and materials being preserved in participating archives, and to share archival practices with local artists and their communities. The project explores archives across the city via online features, new artist commissions, and a series of public programs, which have included two iterations of the Chicago Archives + Artists Festival and an exhibition that showcased the new work created for this project. A book that reflects on the project and serves as a site for new archive-inspired work will be published in 2023.
Diamond in the Back
In 2021, Sixty began a two-year partnership with The Blackivists on their community archiving initiative Diamond in the Back: Excavating Chicago’s Black Cultural and Material Heritage, a project that seeks to excavate and amplify unknown gems of cultural and material heritage of the Black community. With a non-extractive, post-custodial approach, The Blackivists provided resources to a cohort of local residents and groups that have a demonstrated interest in or are currently archiving, documenting, and preserving aspects of the Black experience in the Chicagoland area. The Blackivists is a collective of trained Black archivists who prioritize Black cultural heritage preservation and memory work. The project is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Get Archived is a series of events inviting artists in Chicago to use their archival materials to start a file in the Chicago Artist Files at Harold Washington Library. The Get Archived events were hosted in collaboration with WBEZ in their Neighborhood Bureaus, allowing us to take our archiving efforts with the Chicago Public Library to Englewood, Humboldt Park, as well as other art centers, artist-run spaces, and cultural incubators. Sixty’s relationship with WBEZ began in 2010-2014 when we collaborated with Chicago Public Media and WBEZ‘s Off-Air program to take our work off the internet and beyond the walls of the library and into Chicago’s neighborhoods, cultural centers, and art centers. In 2011, we produced What’s Your Art? a festival that invited twelve of the city’s art centers to recreate the energy of their space in the halls of the Chicago Cultural Center.
Launched in 2020, Loss/Capture is an editorial project co-led by archivists, librarians, artists, activists, and curators that explores the current state of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and diasporic collections in and beyond Chicago. The project is designed to speak directly to local and national archiving communities while bringing the archival profession’s evolving practices and most pressing concerns to an audience of cultural workers, artists, writers, curators, grantmakers, street scholars, and community archivists. Guest edited by Steven D. Booth and Stacie Williams, Loss/Capture’s first volume focuses on the state of Black cultural archives in and beyond Chicago, and aims to celebrate Black cultural heritage and its prospects for liberation. Loss/Capture’s inaugural guest editors and the Sixty team are continuing to explore how to expand the project, and invite a new round of collaborators to create future volumes, especially ones that dig into the current state of Latinx and Indigenous cultural collections in Chicago and the Midwest.
Something To Look Forward To
Launched in 2020, Something to look forward to is a subscription of six thematic printed issues compiling essays, interviews, and articles Sixty has published over the years, selected by our editors. These zines are published in collaboration with For The Birds Trapped in Airports.
Art Design Chicago
In 2018, the Terra Foundation for American Art launched Art Design Chicago, an ongoing initiative that amplifies Chicago’s art and design legacy through hundreds of exhibitions, talks, tours, publications, and other special events. To complement the initiative, Sixty designed an editorial project that explored the nuances of these histories alongside The Ladydrawers Comic Collective, On the Real Film, Postloudness, and Sixty’s writers, editors, and photographers. Through essays, interviews, photography, short videos, a podcast series, and illustrated stories, we offered a distinct lens through which to experience the stories at the edges of ADC’s inaugural roster of programs and projects. Since then, we’ve collaborated with Terra to develop interviews, videos, reflections, photo essays, and more as part of Art Design Chicago Now.
The Chicago Arts Census
Collaboratively launched in 2020 by ACRE and Annas, the Chicago Arts Census is an artist-run initiative that collects, maps, and visualizes data that illuminates the lived experiences and working conditions of art workers in Chicago. The collected data will be translated into a series of maps, a website, a publication, and public programs that demonstrate the interwoven and dependent relationships that make up Chicago’s art ecosystem. Sixty partnered with the organizers of the Chicago Arts Census to help promote participation and commission writings from artists, writers, organizers, and arts workers that more deeply explore some of the critical issues driving the creation of this project.
Over the course of 2022, five of Sixty’s writers participated in a new program with the Kentucky-based arts publication, UnderMain. With the goal of creating conversations about arts and culture in the Midwest and the near South, UnderMain’s program On the Road brought five of Sixty’s writers into various areas of Kentucky to explore the visual arts and produce new writings in response.
Bemis Critic-in-Residence Program
Beginning in 2022, Sixty partners with the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts to present a yearly critic-in-residence program. This initiative provides an opportunity for Sixty’s writers to travel to Omaha and engage with artists working there, sparking new dialogue and creative connections while offering space for critics to expand their practice.
During the Summer of 2022, Chuquimarca hosted Muña, a 3-month art writing program providing a cohort of six writers the opportunity to critically and creatively engage with art writing strategies, readings, exercises, and conversations. The program is structured for writers to develop and refine their practices through guided workshops and peer-review feedback. Its task is to stir, incubate, and pollinate shared consciousness on holistic, equitable, and attentive art writing and language practices. In partnership with Muña, Sixty worked with the cohort to support and publish their writing.
Presented by Elastic Arts in collaboration with Sixty Inches From Center, the We Series presented live art that blurs the line between performance and reality, with a soft spot for the participatory, ceremonial, ritualistic, immersive, and tutorial. The performances in this series debuted every Tuesday evening in January 2021. In tandem, Sixty published written companion pieces on the same day, authored by poets, playwrights, designers, musicians, bakers, and more.
In 2020, Sixty partnered with TRACE (Teens Re-Imagining Art, Community & Environment), a program of the Chicago Parks District that creates opportunities for Chicago artists and teens to use art to engage, inspire, and persist for positive change. Over the course of the summer, Sixty worked with TRACE’s Senior Program Specialist Marcus E. Davis to publish photos made by the students of lead teaching artists and co-founders of alt_Chicago Jordan Campbell and Jon Veal.
Perto de Lá < > Close to There
Close to There <> Perto de Lá is an artist exchange program between Salvador, Brazi, and Chicago organized by Comfort Station (Chicago), Projeto Ativa (Salvador) and Harmonipan (Mexico City) between 2019 and 2020. In partnership with this program, Sixty published a series of conversations between the participating artists, pairing makers from Brazil and makers from Chicago for a conversational exchange, allowing them to connect about their practices prior to meeting one another for the first time. Each exchange was edited by Marina Santos Resende and translated into Portuguese.
Transition to Power
In 2017 On The Real Film presented Transition To Power, a documentary web series created as a response to the 2016 United States Presidential Election. Created in collaboration with Sixty, Transition To Power dives into the aftermath of the election through the eyes of artists and creatives. In each episode, artists discuss their thoughts on how to move forward in this explosive and fragile political climate.
As part of Illinois Humanities’ Envisioning Justice initiative, in 2018 Sixty created a 9-month residency for writers, photographers, activists, artists, and organizers to publish writings and photo documentation of the work happening at the cross-section of art and the criminal justice system. Envisioning Justice is a series of projects, events, programs, and collaborations that look into how Chicagoans and Chicago artists respond to the impact of incarceration in local communities and how the arts and humanities are used to devise strategies for lessening this impact.
Sixty Collective Projects
In 2022, Sixty launched CANJE: an exploration in cultural criticism engaging five artists in the Chicago community. As part of this summer-long program, five folks from Sixty came together and formed a cohort to collaboratively establish best practices in cultural criticism while creating a supportive critique environment that puts the artist first so that the experience is mutually beneficial: an exchange between the artist and the cohort.
In 2016, Sixty initiated new relationships and tapped into existing connections we had in Bloomington-Normal, Peoria, Springfield, Rockford, and Urbana-Champaign, and published a series of articles by local artists and writers within each location. The following year, and thanks to the support from Illinois Humanities, we expanded these partnerships to include collaborative residencies, cross-state discussions, a symposium, a new artist-run online publication, writer exchanges, and mini-grants to our partners. As a result of these efforts, Sixty officially incorporated our Midwest scope into our mission in 2018 and today we have contributors, editors, and collaborators from wider reaches of the Midwest, including Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.