Terra Foundation Senior Engagement Fellow

Terra Foundation for American Art

The Terra Foundation for American Art seeks a Chicago-based artist or designer with an established community-centered practice to fill the role of Senior Engagement Fellow. The fellow will engage staff representatives from a group of approximately 25 Chicago museums and cultural institutions to help them advance their community-engagement practices.


At this time of intense internal and external scrutiny of museums and cultural organizations everywhere, the field is evaluating and reconsidering its role and responsibilities to the communities it is meant to serve and represent. As a funder that supports the work of visual arts institutions, the Terra Foundation recognizes its role in upholding inequitable systems and practices that have contributed to the lack of access and inclusion of Black, Indigenous, and/or other People of Color (BIPOC) individuals and communities by cultural institutions. In this moment of change we are examining our own practices and are committed to supporting our grantees’ efforts to reverse historical imbalances and actively dismantle oppressive systems.

Key to this work is reimagining the ways that cultural institutions engage with the communities they currently, or hope to, serve. In partnership with the local cultural community, the Terra Foundation is developing a new grant opportunity and learning community to support advances in community-engagement practices by Chicago institutions. A component of the Terra Foundation’s ongoing Art Design Chicago initiative, the Engagement Learning Community is a platform for cooperative idea-generation, knowledge exchange, consensus building, and collective problem solving around equitable and inclusive engagement strategies. Together, participating organizations will develop and test new or refined models of engagement that can catalyze mutually beneficial partnerships with communities, leading to institutional growth and change.


What is the fellow’s role?

Bringing an artist’s perspective to the project, the Terra Foundation Senior Engagement Fellow will play an integral role in the development of the Art Design Chicago Engagement Learning Community and will serve as a sounding board for new ideas and approaches. Providing field-expertise and theoretical grounding in community-engagement strategies and socially engaged art practices, the fellow will help to create and lead the activities of the Engagement Learning Community, serve as a bridge between cultural institutions and community organizations, and foster imagination and innovation—helping Terra Foundation staff and partners think beyond our current perceptual and operational boundaries. We hope the experience provides a compelling opportunity for the fellow to test ideas and to advance his/her/their teaching repertoire, community practice, and professional network.

What will the fellow do?

The fellow will work closely with Terra Foundation staff and a steering committee made up of a racially diverse group of representatives of local museums and cultural organizations. Responsibilities include:

Actively contributing to the development of Engagement Learning Community methodologies and content, and leading/facilitating select Engagement Learning Community sessions;

Providing, as appropriate or requested, informal, one-on-one counsel to ADC partner organizations,;

Serving as a connector, inviting community organizations and creatives into the project, and facilitating new relationships among ADC partner organizations and between ADC partners and communities;

Conceiving of and implementing a project that interprets and/or documents the Engagement Learning Community’s work; and

Providing strategic input to Terra Foundation staff on the foundation’s broader community engagements and initiatives in Chicago (beyond the Engagement Learning Community).


The candidate:

Has an active, demonstrated community-focused visual art or design practice and theoretical grounding in social practice and community art and/or design;

Integrates intersectional and interdisciplinary praxis into their community-engaged strategies;

Has current or past teaching experience;

Demonstrates relationships within one or more Chicago communities; and a record of engaging BIPOC partners and communities;

Has a strong interest in working with museums and arts organizations and in helping to build authentic relationships between cultural institutions and communities;

Has proven cultural competency in working with diverse cultural expressions and aesthetics;

Is committed to advancing racial equity; and

Is Chicago-based. Candidates who are Black, Indigenous, and/or are other People of Color are encouraged to apply.

Term, time commitment, and compensation

A total of $65,000 over 3½ years (2021–24). Schedule is flexible and amount of time required will vary from one week to the next but is expected to average seven hours weekly. Engagement Learning Community activities will take place on weekdays. Additional funds will be available to support the final creative project if applicable.



For purposes of the Art Design Chicago Engagement Learning Community, “community” is defined as a group of people who are connected by shared geography, attributes, and/or interests. We understand that participating organizations will have defined for themselves the specific communities with which they have chosen to partner.

Community-centered practice

Creative work that is aimed at producing social transformation and includes community members (individuals, agencies, organizations) as collaborators who share in decision-making, shaping the project, and project outcomes.

How to Apply

To Apply

Deadline: April 30, 2021


Complete the application form and submit.


Respond to the questions on the online form in a video and email the file or link to Eva Silverman at silverman@terraamericanart.org. Or contact Eva by email or phone at 312.654.2272 to schedule a video interview.

About the Terra Foundation for American Art

The Terra Foundation for American Art supports individuals, organizations, and communities to advance expansive understandings of American art. Established in 1978 and headquartered in Chicago, with an office in Paris, its grant program, collection, and initiatives are committed to fostering cross-cultural dialogues on American art locally, nationally, and internationally.

About Art Design Chicago (ADC)

Art Design Chicago brings together artists, designers, and cultural organizations to illuminate the critical contributions of the city’s diverse makers and communities. Developed by the Terra Foundation for American art as an ongoing investment in the civic and artistic life of Chicago, the initiative supports the creation of collaborative networks through exhibitions, programs, publications, and innovative public engagement strategies that amplify the voices of the city’s diverse artists and designers—past and present—and foster connectedness among individuals and across communities.

Art Design Chicago involves the participation of large and small cultural organizations who are exploring the contributions of diverse artists and communities to Chicago’s creative landscape through exhibitions, public programs, and publications. Topics in development range from the history of Native American creativity in the region and the impact of immigrant artists and designers, to the ways in which art and design have intersected with environmentalism and the role of artists as teachers.

The Art Design Chicago Engagement Learning Community is a peer learning initiative for local museums and cultural organizations that aims to grow engagement and make access to arts and culture in Chicago more equitable and inclusive. Planned to launch in summer 2021, the Engagement Learning Community will facilitate knowledge exchange, foster collaboration, and encourage collective problem solving around the topic of community-engagement. Including three to four annual group convenings through 2024 along with periodic informal sessions, activities of the Engagement Learning Community are informed by a Steering Committee (comprising representatives from member cultural organizations and other cultural leaders) and driven by the participants’ goals and interests.


Feel free to reach out to Eva Silverman, Project Director, Art Design Chicago, silverman@terraamericanart.org.

Posted on April 16