Diagram from W.J. Schatz, Club Swinging for Physical Exercise and Recreation (Boston: American Gymnasia Company, 1908).

The Addams-Dewey Gymnasium honors and activates both meanings of the word gymnasium: a space for physical activity and a preparatory school of higher learning. The space, reflecting turn of the century gymnasiums, is inspired in the educational philosophies of Jane Addams and John Dewey, Chicago-based contemporaries who, at the turn of the century, were pioneers of progressive education in both theory and practice. The central tenet of their approach, which was to give primacy to experience, took form in a curriculum that included art making and physical activities.

Looking at the rich history of socially engaged art in Chicago, this project explores what could be some of the intellectual and historical roots of this practice. In this spirit, the Gymnasium will enact curriculum practiced at Dewey’s Chicago Laboratory School and Addams’ Hull House, as well as present new experimental actions that draw inspiration from the legacy of these educators, seeking to bring the relevance of their ideas into twenty-first century art and education practice.

Read more about Helguera and the Addams-Dewey Gymnasium here.