Applied Words

Language is adhesive. By connecting artists and experts in various fields of study, Applied Words uses language as a platform for conversations about contemporary social issues at the local, national, and international level. Language takes on many forms such as words, dance, and visual art and in showcasing these languages alongside the conversation, we stick art and activism together.

This series from the Guild features readings, gallery shows, and dance and musical performances alongside panel discussions on rotating social activism issues. Artist and expert meet in this one of kind program to chart a new path through creativity and justice.


  • February – Segregation and Education in Chicago
    Tuesday, February 21, 7:00pm

    This month’s Applied Words examines how Chicago’s racial divide affects its educational system. Kevin Coval, Founder/Director of Young Chicago Authors, will be leading a panel of experts on education policy and artists alike in a discussion into the future of schools in Chicago and nationwide.
  • March – Intersectional Women’s Issues: Representation in the Media
    Tuesday, March 14, 7:00pm

    This month’s Applied Words deconstructs how women are represented in film, music, television and other popular media and what lasting effects these portrayals leave on young, female identifying individuals. Dr. Nicole Spigner, Associate Professor of African American Literature and Culture at Columbia College Chicago, will lead a discussion with artists working to reimagine the narrative of women in the media.
  • April – Accessibility to the Arts: Class and Opportunity
    Tuesday, April 11, 7:00pm

    This month’s Applied Words focuses on gauging who, economically and socially speaking, has the accessibility and opportunity to engage with the arts on a public level. The conversation will speak to the dichotomy between “low and high culture” art forms and how they impact the larger community as a whole.
  • May – Mental Health and Homelessness
    Tuesday, May 9, 7:00pm

    This month’s Applied Words addresses the link between the mental health system and homelessness. The discussion will be centered around what can be done locally, nationally, and globally to combat homelessness and the need to re-evaluate how mental health facilities operate and provide care for those individuals.
  • June – Gender and the Arts
    Tuesday, June 13, 7:00pm

    This month’s Applied Words tackles gender identity and how the private and public spheres converge in the arts. C. Russell Price, visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Northwestern, leads an investigation into how gender identity influences creativity and an artist’s career.
  • July – Nature and Neighborhoods
    Tuesday, July 11, 7:00pm

    This month’s Applied Words features eco-poet and Associate Professor of Creative Writing Matthew Shenoda leading a discussion about how varying communities’ interaction with the natural world affects their public health differently by class and race. /

Applied art” – noun: the application of design and aesthetics to objects of function and everyday use; the incorporation of design and creative ideals to objects of utility, such as a cup, magazine or park bench

Applied Words” – noun, verb and series from the Guild Literary Complex

Each Applied Words event explores creative writing’s intersection with an artistic discipline (e.g. music or visual art) or a non-arts field (e.g. social justice or health). The evening combines reading/performance with a Q&A between featured artists and audience.