While this gallery originated as a simple architectural tribute to a prominent artist from Chicago, the themes that kept recurring in and around Kanye’s life and work, like racial profiling, police brutality, and the black experience as it relates to the city of Chicago, all burst to the forefront of the project. This led to the 9th and 10th levels being reimagined from museum and gallery spaces into youth outreach and educational spaces, specifically for the Donda Foundation’s use.
The Dr. Donda West Foundation is a Chicago-based nonprofit whose mission is to support young aspiring artists in Chicago, by honoring the educational legacy of Dr. West by implementing arts and literature experiences that transform the lives of inner-city youth. The instruction is not only in arts; after the programs, students who had previously dropped out are ready to re-enroll in school, and are given a blueprint for personal and professional growth beyond school. Giving the foundation a new base of operations inside the West Gallery seemed like a logical next step towards incorporating outreach and inclusive spaces with the architectural mandate.