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A Jesuit College Preparatory Experience

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Chicago Artist Kevin Coval Shares Creative Process with Students

On Wednesday, January 10, Chicago artist, poet, educator and activist Kevin Coval visited Loyola Academy art classes and offered students a unique performance-based presentation and workshop.
“We invited Kevin to speak to our arts classes because he has devoted his life to empowering others through art, both in his own poetry as well as through his workshops with youth,” says Visual Arts Chair Ms. Colleen Aufderheide.

Coval discussed the importance of expanding one’s perspectives and finding a positive creative community with students in AP Studio Art, Honors Studio 3, Honors American Literature: Hidden Voices and Studio 2: Arts as Advocacy. In the early 1990s, it was Coval’s passion for hip-hop music that inspired him to venture from his home in Northbrook into the city where he encountered the people, communities and ideas that would come to shape his perspective on the world and his evolution as an artist.  

“I was surprised to hear about his exploration, and I was inspired to go outside of my comfort zone,” says senior Angela Visconti.  “I particularly enjoyed what he said about finding a creative community and feeding off of one another; it has really impacted my artistic process.”

With a passion that is at once approachable and energizing, Coval discussed his creative process and recited work from his recent book A People’s History of Chicago, a collection of poems that represents the city’s untold history through the perspective of figures on the margin such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Studs Terkel and Al Capone.

“Kevin is passionate about poetry, creativity and the city of Chicago, and he combines those passions to challenge the dominant narrative...which is the goal of our class,” explain Ms. Jenni Anderson and Ms. Maggie Kollar, who teach Hidden Voices in American Literature, a service learning class. “His message to our students was to explore beyond the surface, recognize all facets of people and places and not to be satisfied with the status quo.”

Then, working with the Studio 2: Arts as Advocacy class, Coval conducted a writing exercise that challenged students to examine the concept of home and how different this is for everyone. Students had the opportunity to share what they had written and discuss what home means for them.

“It is valuable for our students to meet an artist working in Chicago who seeks to build community through dialogue among diverse populations,” Aufderheide adds.  “It compliments our aim as Ignatian educators to build empathetic leaders who are countercultural and rooted in social justice.”

Arts as Advocacy and Hidden Voices are part of Loyola’s lineup of service learning classes that take the service experience into the classroom—enabling students to learn about social justice issues in academic courses across the curriculum, apply their new knowledge to real-life situations through community service and then engage in reflective exercises, discussions and projects to process the experience. Other service learning offerings include courses such as Honors Environmental Science, Spanish Immersion and Justice Seminar. To learn more about service learning, click here.

Coval is the founder of the Louder than a Bomb annual teen poetry slam and the author of A People’s History of Chicago (2017). Find more information at http://kevincoval.com/kc/.
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