Empathy through art at the Oak Park Public Library

This November, two traveling art exhibits come to the Oak Park Public Library that inspire empathy and connection.

When Home Won't Let You Stay

This multimedia art experience focuses on reclaiming our empathetic imagination toward displaced people. The exhibit, now in the Oak Park Public Library's Idea Box, is the product of documentary artist James A. Bowey. He traveled the country collecting the stories and photos of refugees living in America. The penetrating portraits, alongside first-person accounts presented as found poems, share the devastating stories of violence and loss that permeate the refugee experience, challenging us to consider our role in building supportive and welcoming communities for refugees around the world.

Watch WTTW's Chicago Tonight interview with the artist »

On Wednesday, November 20, Bowey will lead a live community event at the library to consider the experiences of refugees and our responses to the needs of displaced people around the world. Accompanied by live music and narrators from the community, he will present more photographs, stories and reflections from When Home Won't Let You Stay, then lead a community conversation about how current refugee policies and attitudes reflect the state of the empathetic imagination in our civic life.

Community on a Shelf: Exploring the Human Side of Mental Illness

VersAnnette Blackman-Bosia is a visual artist, author, poet, and facilitator. She has served as a trauma-informed facilitator teaching art in domestic violence shelters and Chicago high schools. As part of her 2019 EveryLibrary Artist in Residence project, she has an exhibit on display in the Oak Park Public Library through November.

Community on a Shelf: Exploring the Human Side of Mental Illness features pieces that came from her time of personal grief, depression, and anxiety after the loss of her youngest brother by suicide. "I feel very blessed to share my voice and vulnerability in an honest way," she tells us.

See more of the artist's work »

Permanent art collection

The Main Library is home to one of Illinois' largest public art collections, and features contemporary American art designed to engage community with works that are challenging, intriguing, and enduring.

Learn about and see more of the library's permanent art collection »

Article Type: