Great Chicago Fire Festival to celebrate city culture

GreatChicagoFireFest-TeenWorksonFireCauldron[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ll summer, Redmoon, a Chicago arts organization, has been working with different communities collecting stories that reflect the spirit of Chicago and teaching teens welding and project design in preparation for the Great Chicago Fire Festival.

Jim Lasko, executive artistic director at Redmoon, said the idea for the festival was sparked by a series of questions in his mind.

“There’s a really exciting burgeoning field of artists who are interested in interacting directly with their communities, cities and environments. This can be an opportunity for those artists to practice,” said Lasko.

Teenagers with After School Matters, a Chicago non-profit organization, partnered with Redmoon on this project through the Engineering Wonder program. They have spent the summer learning to weld and build the devices and fire cauldrons that will be a key part of the festival.

Ireti Akinrinade, 16, of West Rogers Park said that the project is important because it will bring different communities together.

“Even though Chicago is very diverse there is a lot of segregation, like some neighborhoods are extremely Jewish and some are very Hispanic,” said Akinrinade. “Being able to all come together in one place for a greater good or to celebrate something definitely would be good for Chicago.”

Andres Lemus-Spont, one of the instructors who worked with the teens at Redmoon said that the experience has been interesting but the challenge was to find ways to get the teens to see how design, engineering, thinking and drawing are all interconnected forms of expression. The Great Chicago Fire Festival will begin with the grand procession and fire performance on the main branch of the Chicago River on Oct. 4.

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