Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the United States, a direct result of racist housing policies over the course of more than a century. And while housing segregation has gradually declined over the past ten years, the disparities among white Chicago residents and residents of color remain. Tonika Lewis Johnson, a visual artist and lifelong resident of the South Side neighborhood of Englewood, investigates inequality in her city while finding opportunities to bring Chicagoans together. Her Folded Map™ Project connects “map twins”—residents who live at corresponding addresses on opposite sides of Chicago (e.g., 123 South Main Street and
123 North Main Street). What started as a photographic study has evolved into a multimedia exploration that invites audiences to open a dialogue and question how we are all impacted by social, racial, and institutional conditions that segregate us.
Lewis Johnson’s goal is for people to understand how our segregated urban environment is structured and to challenge everyone to consider solutions. In this plenary, Lewis Johnson will be joined by “map twins” Jennifer Chan, Nanette Tucker, and Wade Wilson, as well as Eleanor Gorski, Executive Director of the Cook County Land Bank Authority, the local landbank who works with partners to re-develop areas of Cook County, which have suffered from historic disinvestment and segregationist policies. They will share how Folded Map™ has transformed from a visual art project into tool for social justice, advocacy, and policy influence that invites audiences to open a dialogue and question how we are all socially impacted by racial and institutional conditions that segregate the city.