Today, we are interviewing Dianna C. Long, the Founder of Chicago Urban Art Retreat Center (CUARC), in the North Lawndale area in Chicago. Established in 1991, CUARC seeks to bring people together by offering socially impacting art, positive programs, creative workshops, women retreats, and volunteer opportunities to engage a community. Pictured above is Little Rose and Dianna.
What drives you?
From a very young age, I noticed how unfair things were. I always wanted to do something about this. As an artist, this was reflected in the expressions I shared with others. As a young worker, I was drawn toward jobs that involved helping others. As a young activist, I wanted to help end war, protect women, and stop the injustices against people of color. Injustice is what encouraged me to band together and form a non-profit to support the underdog. After all these years, I am still actively working toward social justice for all.
What is your current project?
My current project is to build the Harriet Tubman Resource Center near the Kedzie stop on the Pink Line. It will include an outdoor area – Frida Kahlo Patio. The building will have an art gallery, community meeting space, vegan cafe, referrals office, florist shop employing folks with intellectual disabilities, used furnishings store employing formerly incarcerated & homeless folks, lounge with computer access, Spoken Word Youth Program, Entrepreneurs Incubator Program, community residents board, and rooftop garden.
Why is this project so important to you?
Along with other volunteers, I am organizing to create this building to serve Chicago, Little Village & North Lawndale in particular. We hope to increase the peace. People will see this building when they get off the Pink Line. We plan to change people’s perceptions of our neighborhoods. We believe it is just the beginning of changing our area for the better.
How do you plan to introduce this project?
In September 2020, we are planning to introduce our project by offering a Communities Art Walk & Bus Art Tour for both communities to show Chicago what we have to offer. Artists, galleries, and shops displaying art will be available for viewing in both neighborhoods. The bus tour will stop at each site for viewing and refreshments. Meanwhile, along Kedzie between 19th – 24th, neighbors and vendors will show art and create art. We will have performances and medical people on hand to educate people about COVID-19, hand out masks, and test people for COVID.
What do you do in your spare time?
When I am not working for Chicago Urban Art Retreat, I like to spend time with my dogs, Mister Deboo, WayneWayne, and Glennie. They are rescue dogs and love attention. I also like to make art, enjoy the garden, write and watch TV. Plus, I am a social justice activist.