No stranger to Harold Washington Library Center, Faith Humphrey Hill is this Fall’s Maker-in-Residence, teaching Library users how to knit, draw using digital tools—and asking us to remember those whose lives were lost to COVID-19 with her famous knit-prints.
Accessibility: A Constant Thread
It’s come full circle for Faith. As a college student attending the School of the Art Institute (SAIC)—and later Columbia College—she’d come to Harold Washington Library Center to study and hang out. This Fall, she’s “hanging out” at the Maker Lab as this season’s Maker-in-Residence.
But let’s rewind a little. Growing up in Florida, Faith always knew she wanted to be an artist. She realized she was a visual learner early in middle school. She began pursuing art more seriously in high school, eventually bringing her to the Windy City for art school.
Since graduating, Faith’s had several administrative and leadership positions in galleries and museums including the Director of Education and Outreach at Elmhurst Art Museum and the Executive Director of the Oak Park Art League. In 2015, she began pursuing artmaking full-time through her website dartily (a fun wordplay on ‘art’ and ‘daily’).
The one constant thread throughout her career? Making art accessible.
“When I worked in museums, it was about having a conversation about the art on the wall… I’d help build a connection between the viewer and artwork.” Faith explains.
“It’s the same with making art. I want people to feel like they can do it, especially when you throw in the tech element.”
Fast forward to today. As a Maker-in-Residence, Faith is passionate about the Maker Lab being an accessible creative space for Chicagoans. “Libraries continue to find new and different ways to serve the communities—like with the Maker Lab! There’s a need because people don’t always have access to creative spaces like these.”
As part of her vision of making art accessible, Faith helps ease Library users into the space and make equipment like the 3D printer, vinyl cutters, and knitting machines more approachable. And because the Library is a safe space to create and connect with one another, Library users are interested to learn new art styles and test out the different equipment available to them.
“If people are going past the 3rd floor, they have to pass by me,” Faith says enthusiastically. “They usually stop and ask me questions and if they seem interested, I ask if they want to move the carriage across and knit a couple of rows. They hesitate at first, but after assuring them they won’t break the machine, they are so excited they can knit now.”
Weaving a Story Together
Faith’s unique approach to artmaking consists of combining knitting with digital drawing (and sometimes other techniques like spray painting).
But how do the mediums work together? Using knitting and digital drawing, Faith highlights the different intricacies of a person’s face, with each layer bringing out a different texture and quality – creating a compelling and rich image that tells a moving story.
“Visual art, to me, is no different than a book,” she explains. “Instead of words, I take visual elements like knitting to make a story happen.”
For her final project, Faith is using her mixed media skills to create a series of portraits of Chicagoans who have passed from COVID-19.
“Working from photos of strangers allows me to get to know and understand people through my eyes,” she muses. “And that’s what I’m asking the viewer to do—to look at my drawing and connect with the people in the picture.”
This project reminds us to connect to those we’ve lost, to ourselves, our collective humanity, and our community.
“You hear all the COVID news and it’s a lot of stats. It almost makes you forget about the people, the emotions, and the loss,” she says. “I hope people are able to put a face to COVID with these portraits.”
Faith’s final project, “Portraits of COVID,” will be on display at Harold Washington Library Center in January. You can learn more about her work here.
The Maker Lab is the only FREE maker space in Chicago−a space where Library users can experiment with new technologies such as design software, electronic & laser cutters, and 3D printers to make a creative project, a business idea, or a design prototype come to life.
This program is made possible thanks to our sponsors: Comcast, Andrea Saenz & John Bracken, Chicago Community Trust, and generous donors to the Library Foundation.
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