The ten-month Artist-in-Residence program for individual artists places specific emphasis on those whose work critically engages issues of race and ethnicity and works to advance their artistic ambitions and opportunities. During this program, resident artists have access to rehearsal, performance, and exhibition space at or near the Arts Incubator in Washington Park, as well as access to the academic and research resources of the University.

Meet the 2017-18 Artists-in-Residence:

17-18 APL AIRS.png

2017-18 Artists-in-Residence. From left to right: Victoria Martinez; Arif Smith; Brittney Leeanne Williams

Victoria Martinez is a transdisciplinary artist and educator from Pilsen who explores textiles, installation art, site-specific experiments, printmaking, and painting. She believes in chance and intuition, creating ephemeral experiences inspired by the urban environment, Mother Earth, and fiber, a universal material that connects us all despite of our background. Martinez works with overlooked spaces, marks and items, sewing and weaving them together to create fresh perspectives. She has exhibited at Northwestern University, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago Cultural Center, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the National Museum of Mexican Art, The Franklin, Duke University, and University of Minnesota. Upcoming projects include group shows at Pelican Bomb Gallery in New Orleans and a solo exhibition at Loyola University Museum of Art.

Arif Smith is a multidisciplinary artist and educator. His performance- and video-based work centers on diasporic citizenship and African-rooted performance practices, exploring notions of blackness, co-presence, and marronage. Smith received his BA from Oklahoma State University. He also participated in the performance studies graduate program at Northwestern University. Additionally, Smith has curated exhibitions and symposia at Williams College and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA). He is currently a member of Bomba con Buya and serves as program manager at Changing Worlds.

Brittney Leeanne Williams is a Chicago-based studio artist who is originally from LA. She attended the School of the Art Institute from 2008-2009. Her work has exhibited in Los Angeles, Chicago, Madison, WI, and Ann Arbor, MI. She also does conceptual work, including set design for the short film Self-Deportation (which has screened at film festivals nationally and internationally, including the 15th Annual DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival and the Pineapple Underground Film Festival, Hong Kong). She most recently has been a resident for Chicago Artist Coalition’s HATCH residency and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture this past summer.

Related Programs

Welcome Reception + Artist Talk, moderated by Tempestt Hazel
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The artist talk featured the 2017-18 Artists-in-Residence: Victoria Martinez, a transdisciplinary artist and educator from Pilsen; Arif Smith, a multidisciplinary artist and educator; and Brittney Leeanne Williams, a Chicago-based conceptual artist.

Moderated by Tempestt Hazel, curator, writer and founder of Sixty Inches From Center, the discussion created an opportunity for each artist to introduce themselves and their practices, while also creating space for each to amplify their ambition for their time in residence at the University of Chicago, on the Arts Block, and in Chicago's Washington Park community. Learn more about this event »

Embodying Diaspora: Monthly dance workshop series
Second Tuesdays | February 13 - July 10, 2018 | 6:30-8:00 pm

Arts + Public Life presents Embodying Diaspora, a monthly dance workshop series that centers on Afro-diasporic movement traditions led by Arts + Public Life / Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture Artist-in-Residence Arif Smith and his guests. Smith’s residency prioritizes embodiment and co-presence as strategies for exploring linkages between various coordinates in the Black Atlantic. All workshops are free and open to the public. All skill levels are welcome. Learn more about the workshop series »

Weaving Patterns and Perceptions: Art Workshop led by Victoria Martinez
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 | 5:30-7:30 pm

Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture
5733 S University Ave, Room 103

Join Victoria Martinez, Arts and Public Life and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture Artist-in-Residence, for a workshop highlighting her current art practice based on African and Mexican textiles. Participate in the creation of weaving imagery based upon text from the University of Chicago art libraries and collections and learn about patterns and color theory in fiber arts. Learn more about the workshop »

Brittney Leeanne Williams: Painting in Washington Park
Spring and Summer, 2018

​Brittney Leeanne Williams is working on a spring project that situates the Black body within the landscape painting genre. Williams uses observational painting techniques to construct landscape as a space of emotional escape. During her residency, Williams will use Washington Park as a natural subject and as a studio for outdoor painting sessions. Starting this spring and summer, Williams will be painting in the park, capturing the park’s pastoral scenery created by Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 1870s. As the weather warms up, keep an eye out for Williams and her easel.

Upcoming Exhibition:

Carrying A Place Called Home
New Works by Victoria Martinez, Arif Smith, and Brittney Leeanne Williams

Opening Reception: Friday, July 20, 2018 | 6:00–8:00 PM
Exhibition on view: July 20–August 31, 2018

Carrying A Place Called Home is the culminating program for the 2017-18 resident artists, Brittney Leeanne WilliamsArif Smith, and Victoria Martinez. The exhibition features new works the artists produced during their ten-month residency at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park that reflect on identity, memory, and place through painting, collage, dance and video.


Artist Residency programs are supported by Arts + Public Life, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, and The Joyce Foundation.


2017-18 Artist-in-Residence: Arif Smith
2017-18 Artist-in-Residence: Victoria Martinez
2017-18 Artist-in-Residence: Brittney Leeanne Williams