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About The Stockyard Institute

First Stockyard Building

Founded in 1995 by artist and College of Education professor Jim Duignan, the Stockyard Institute is a civic, artistic, and social practice project that approaches issues of community, equity, and representation through art and activism. The Stockyard Institute began in Chicago’s Back of the Yards community and soon expanded its reach throughout the city and later internationally. Director Jim Duignan’s early influences by local activists, artist collectives, teachers, neighborhood artists, and the City of Chicago itself inform and inspire his work and mission.

Stockyard Institute projects span platforms ranging from small watt radio stations, various publications, artist residencies, architectural interventions, curricular models, community performances, city-wide programs, public art, and much more.


Summarizing the driving force and ultimate pursuit of 25 years of art and activism is no easy feat. With work that evolves with the changing needs of Chicago’s communities, but ever dedicated to the longstanding spirit of these neighborhoods, the Stockyard Institute’s mission is far more straightforward than one might imagine. Simply put, the Stockyard Institute is a platform for building relationships throughout Chicago. Jim Duignan shares, “I work in the cracks and along the edges of the city, and the practice is rooted in love.”


Jim Duignan
Jim Duignan, MFA
DePaul University College of Education Associate Professor

Jim Duignan founded and is Chair of the Visual Art Education at DePaul University. His work is recognized by Artadia, the City of Chicago, A Blade of Grass Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago. Duignan has received grants from the Weitz Family Foundation, Field Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. Duignan works with the City of Chicago and has consulted on Chicago’s Public Art Plan. His work has been exhibited at the Smart Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, Reykjavik Art Museum, and the Hull House Museum, and published in the New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, University of Chicago Press, and The Art Newspaper.

Rachel Harper
Dr. Rachel Harper
Assistant Director
DePaul University College of Education Professional Lecturer

Rachel L. S. Harper is an interdisciplinary scholar, curator, artist, philosopher, and educator. She is the founder of Seen + Heard, a social practice project advocating for the cultural lives and works of children, and she has led the Teacher Institute at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago since 2008. Harper works nationally with museums, cultural institutions, school districts, and artists on strategic planning, program development, and staff education. She is a recipient of the Stonewall Honor Book Award from the American Library Association and the Ann Lynn Lopez Schubert Memorial Fellowship in Curriculum Studies. Harper’s research, exhibitions, and projects have been supported by the Fry Foundation, the Terra Foundation for American Art, the 3Arts Foundation, the Chicago Art Department, the Ragdale Foundation, the city of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and others.