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MSI Introduces Innovation Studio with 2014 'Black Creativity' Festival

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Black Creativity is an annual festival (like Christmas Around the World) that overlaps with National African American History Month (February), but is longer than National African American History Month (formerly Black History Month). The kickoff event for 2014 Black Creativity was Family Day on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 20, 2014).

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It included a college fair and opportunities to meet with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) professionals. The Black Creativity Gala at MSI – held this year on Saturday, January 25, 2014 – is an annual fundraiser to support Black Creativity programming.

The Black Creativity Juried Art Exhibition opened Wednesday, January 22, 2014 and runs through Sunday, February 23, 2014. It is comprised of eighty-five works from both professional and amateur African-American artists from around the U.S., including nine youth artists between the ages of fourteen to seventeen. The annual art exhibition predates Black Creativity and started in 1970.

This art exhibition features paintings, drawings, fine art prints, sculptures, mixed-media, ceramics, and photography by African-Americans from around the U.S. Artists submit artworks in the fall, and then a panel of five jurors, led by Dr. Walter Massey, President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a MSI trustee, select the pieces for exhibition.

For the third year, a youth component offered opportunities for high school students to submit their artwork to the exhibition. First, second, and third place overall show winners are chosen, as well as a winner in each medium category and the youth category. The winners will be recognized at a reception at the Museum on Wednesday, February 5, 2014. The Juried Art Exhibition is included in Museum Entry.

The Black Creativity Innovation Studio opened Monday, January 27, 2014 and will close after Saturday, March 1, 2014. It offers half-hour-long Studio Drop-in Time for guests and hour-long Innovation Workshops for school and community groups. Both are covered by general admission tickets. The Innovation Studio is located in the temporary exhibit space on the Main Level in the West Pavilion.

MSI described the Innovation Studio in a press release about Black Creativity as "an exciting space for youth to experiment and explore new ideas through making."

Powered by guests’ own curiosity and inspired by science-related challenges, guests will have access to a variety of materials and tools to create their solutions to issues, like making biking a safer mode of transportation and improving the environment in their own community.

The Innovation Studio has profiles of "African-American innovators like Lonnie Johnson, an engineer who invented the Super Soaker water gun," and Lisa Jackson, a chemical engineer who served in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2013 as the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) "to help inspire young inventors about future possibilities and opportunities in science, technology, engineering and medicine."

On a Web page dedicated to the Black Creativity Innovation Studio, MSI states, "The Black Creativity Innovation Studio is a dynamic space to explore new ideas through making – a science-based, do-it-yourself (DIY) approach that encourages creativity and invention. The studio also highlights important contributions of African-American innovators to science, technology, engineering and medicine."

You’ll be challenged to develop solutions to real-life challenges using the studio’s wide variety of materials and tools. You are then welcome to take your solution home or leave it in the display gallery to serve as inspiration to others…

Explore the Innovation Studio and build creations in an open studio environment…

Drop-In Studio Time

There are Drop-in Studio Times Mondays through Fridays at 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 10:00 a.m., 10:30 p.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 12:30 p.m. It is for ages eight and older. Children under twelve must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or chaperone. There is a maximum capacity of thirty people per session, including parents, guardians, or chaperones.

Innovation Workshops for School and Community Groups

There are Innovation Workshops for school and community groups Mondays through Fridays at 10:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. These workshops are recommended for schoolchildren in grades five and up. There is a maximum capacity of thirty children. One can make group reservations by calling (773) 684-1414.

Black Creativity Jr.Science Cafes

Black Creativity Jr. Science Cafes are opportunities for children to meet Black scientists, engineers, or innovators in a classroom setting at MSI during the Black Creativity festival. MSI states in a dedicated Web page, "In celebration of Black Creativity, African American STEM professionals will inspire youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and medicine." All events take place in the E-Suite on the Balcony level in the Central Pavilion.

There are two upcoming Black Creativity Jr. Science Cafe events for the general public on Saturday, February 8, 2014 and Saturday, March 1, 2014. There are three sessions on each date, at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m.

These events are recommended for ages ten and up. Sessions last approximately thirty minutes.

Parents and chapersones are welcome. The maximum capacity is thirty-five people per session. These events are included with Museum Entry.

The first session on February 8th is "The Science of Splashing" with physicist Cacey Stevens of the The University of Chicago at 11:00 a.m. The second session is "Finding Fingerprints" with foensic scientist Kimberly Ryan of the Joliet Forensic Science Laboratory at 12:00 p.m. The third session is "DJ Science" with David Mays, Executive Director, Master Mix Academy at 1:00 p.m.

The first session on March 1st is "Pet Science" with a veterinarian, Dr. Simuel Hampton of the Anti-Cruelty Society. The second session will be "Cosmetic Chemistry" with Felecia Parks, Ph.D., Director, L'Oreal Institute for Ethnic Hair & Skin Research at 12:00 p.m. The third session will be "Engineering Beverages and Flavors" with Nana Antwi, Beverage Technologist, Imbibe.

There has already been one for school and community groups on Thursday, January 30, 2014, which was an opportunity to meet Dr. Donna Alexander, Director of Cook County Animal & Rabies Control. These events also last for about thirty minutes. There are two per day, the first at 10:15 a.m. and the second at 11:15 a.m.

The target audience is schoolchildren in the 5th and grade and over. The maximum capacity for school and community groups is also thirty-five people.

To reserve a weekday session for one's school or community group, call Group Reservations at (773) 684-1414. MSI states, "Limited busing is available for school groups."

There are four more of these events for school and community groups. The next one is the "6 Second Science Fair" on Tuesday, February 4, 2014. The theme for the one on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 has yet to be announced.

There will be different sessions (instead of the same session held twice) on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. The first one will be "Spin the Wheel on Public Health Careers" with "Sista Yaa [Simpson], Community Epidemiologist, TACTS [(The Association of Clinical Trials Services)]" at 10:15. The second will be "Cosmetic Chemistry" with Dr. Parks at 11:15.

The last event will be "Environmental Engineering" with "Guy Ward, EHS Delivery Leader, Americas Styrenics" on Monday, February 24, 2014. ComEd, Dover Inc., ITW, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and US Bank are sponsoring Black Creativity 2014 with media partners Comcast, NBC5, WVON (1690 AM), the Chicago Sun-Times Splash, and the Chicago Defender.

[1] As recounted by Daryl Michael Scott, historian Carter G. Woodson, founder of the “Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) [now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)], conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.” On February 3, 1975, President Gerald Ford called on all Americans to recognize Black History Week (February 9-15, 1975). The next year, the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, as it was then called, pressed for the holiday to be expanded to Black History Month and on February 10, 1976, President Ford called on all Americans to celebrate. On February 11, 1986, the 99th Congress passed Public Law 99-244, a joint resolution that designated February “National Black (Afro-American) History Month” and “authorized and requested” the “President of the United States…to issue a proclamation to calling upon the people of the United States to observe that month with appropriate ceremonies and activities to salute all that Black Americans have done to help build out country.” On February 24, 1986, President Ronald Reagan accordingly issued “Proclamation 5443 - National Black (Afro-American) History Month, 1986.” He stated, “The foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.” On February 19, 1992, President George Herbert Walker Bush effectively changed the name of the holiday to “African-American History Month.” On January 20, 1996, President William Jefferson Clinton changed the name of the holiday again when he issued “Proclamation 6863 - National African American History Month, 1996.”

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