The members of Art Cares sit in a misshapen circle, propped up on elbows or leaning against the miraculously clean tables of Studio 220. During school hours, the room is a gathering place of all types. Some look to create, many to learn, others simply to tick off a mandatory fine arts credit. The walls are lined with bursts of color. Block letters spelling out ART sit crooked above a paint-stained metal basin. Unfinished sculptures wait idle near boxes of magazine scraps. Hanging near the windows, sunlight streams through a massive three by four foot cresting wave in brilliant blue. Next to it, a crimson felt poster reads, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. There could not be a space more appropriate for the group of people it hosts today.
Art Cares was founded as a service club in 2014 by almuni Ellen Jiang and Jillian Cai with the goal of using student creativity to raise funds for local Chicago-based art charities.
“In the world of high school service projects, there’s always been sort of this missing piece…This fills that in for them,” said Laura Milas, club sponsor and Chair of the Art Department at Hinsdale Central. “They can use their talents and then turn around and improve the lives of some other group.”
Within the past few years leadership over the club has been passed down to senior co-presidents Xinru Li and Joy Chen, but for Art Cares, that title means so much more. In contrast to many other activities at Central that may require constant supervision, Art Cares club is almost entirely independent.
“I think it’s really amazing…that students take this on and really all they ask of us is maybe a signature on some paperwork, just the awareness that this is going on. They take care of everything else,” Ms. Milas said.
Despite having strong leaders, however, the club’s meetings consist of equal contribution from each member. As the ten of them sit together, they bounce suggestions off one another, engaged, but clearly comfortable as a group. They troubleshoot concerns with the efficiency only a close team can have, always looking to accommodate all possible options and to expand their opportunities. Even with such focus, however, they’re all relaxed, making quips met with quiet chuckles and encouraging their peers’ future projects.
This year the Art Cares Club raised money for local Chicago charity Ingenuity. Ingenuity is an organization that works to provide funding for fine arts education throughout the Chicagoland area in everything from music, to art, to theatre. In the past, Art Cares has also worked with Snow City Arts and D86 Neighbors in Need, both of which, like Ingenuity, are local charity organizations involved in the arts.
“Anyone who cares about the community or has an interest in art, design, or business should join Art cares. Even though we’re a very art based club, we also have an (entrepreneurial) aspect, and that’s what makes Art Cares unique,” Li said.
Aside from card sales, Art Cares club has also provided care packages throughout finals weeks in the past, providing stressed out students with commodities similar to those a parent may send their collegiate child.
Recently the group has begun discussing their future: expanding beyond the walls of Hinsdale Central. Though still in their planning stage, Art Cares looks to sell their original cards to a variety local markets.
“Sometimes you have no idea what’s going on until you try it. That’s what I think makes Art Cares really fun, because everything we do is new,” Li said.