Jardin Malinalli - National Museum of Mexican Art

 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Creative Placemaking Award (2023)

1852 W. 19th Street, Chicago, IL 60608

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Yollocalli Arts Reach—the National Museum of Mexican Art’s youth programming initiative—has been a fixture of Little Village since 1997 with hands-on classes like street art and mural design. But for years, a vacant lot sat across the street, collecting trash and attracting unsafe activities. At the request of neighbors, Yollocalli engaged its teen artists to design and paint a mural on a wall bordering the lot. Suddenly, the space went from abandoned to showing its first sign of life, and Yollocalli and its neighbors dreamt up what else they could do. The community came together to remove debris from the space, put down mulch and add native plants. They named the lot Jardin Malinalli. To build an area where residents and Yollocalli could host events, the organization partnered with design nonprofit Human Scale to construct a functional art piece that also serves as a stage. The new space celebrates youth-created art and also brings needed green space into an area where the nearest park is miles away.“Last summer we hosted everything from birthday parties to mini music festivals,” said Vanessa Sanchez, Director, Yollocalli. “But more importantly, Jardin Malinalli transformed into a green space where residents could just enjoy a cup of coffee and take in the health benefits of being surrounded by plants and art.” Jardin Malinalli continues to grow and adapt to community needs—as well as serve as an extension of the Yollocalli classroom. Youth programming in the garden includes landscape design and working with Human Scale to plan alternate uses for a donated storage container placed in the middle of space. The community remains involved in the design of the garden’s next phase, contributing their input on future development of this creative place.

10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1700 | Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: (312) 422-9556 | Fax: (312) 360-0185

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