New art center invites community and students


Courtesy McKayla braid

Matthew Runfola founded the Chicago Industrial Art and Design Center, a nonprofit community organization that delivers industrial work education and will open to the public in May.

By McKayla Braid

The Chicago Industrial Art and Design Center, a nonprofit community organization that provides education and opportunities to create 3D objects with industrial machinery, will open its doors in May. 

Located at 6433 N. Ravenswood Ave., the 10,500 square-foot space is three stories tall and each floor functions as an independent workspace. 

The center will have facilities and tools needed for metalworking, 3D printing, woodworking and casting. Classes will be offered to the public for each specific discipline. Matthew Runfola, founder of CIADC and a teacher in the Metal Sculpture Department at Evanston Art Center, said he invites individuals of all skill levels to sign up for classes and learn to create objects using materials of their choosing.

“[CIADC] is for people who want to learn things that are more difficult for them to learn as individuals outside of a degree program,” Runfola said.

Runfola said participants can sign up and pay for a full-term class running on a quarterly basis or take shorter classes and workshops that fit into their schedules. The classes do not offer certificates or degrees after students have completed them, though.

Students can access the facility workspace by paying $7 per hour and $10-11 for non-students. Class tuition costs are $13-14 an hour or people can pay an annual fee of $160, Runfola said.

Runfola said it can be difficult to find access to an available workspace and the correct tools needed for this kind of work in the city. The CIADC will benefit graduating students who want an opportunity to work with the materials offered at the center because they will need a proper workspace to use outside of the universities’ facilities. 

“I have known this firsthand being a sculptor and a furniture maker and how long it’s taken me to overcome those obstacles,” Runfola said.

The space can also be utilized by high school students whose schools do not have shop classes, Runfola said. He added that he plans to bring ideas and concepts to the CIADC from his prior experience at the Evanston Art Center, where he has worked for the last 13 years.

Jessica Wojtowicz, an attorney and the treasurer on the Board of Directors for the CIADC, said she is an advocate for the center because it gives Chicagoans an opportunity to learn about a craft that they may not have learned in school.

“Unfortunately in our society, more and more art programs are being cut in high schools and even in grade schools,” Wojtowicz said. “[It is] important that students be exposed to that because art plays such a great role in life and everyone needs to have that.” 

Darlys Ewoldt, an adjunct professor in the Art + Design Department, serves as secretary on CIADC’s board. She said she thinks high school students should have more access to art programs in the city because they are suffering from a lack of funding.

“I’m just a huge proponent of art and performing art,” Ewoldt said. “It definitely enriched my life and helped me be where I’m at. I don’t think that I would have been here had I not been exposed to [art].”

Ewoldt said she hopes to incorporate cross-programming with other educational institutions and organizations and even invite students from the college to participate in CIADC’s programs. 

“Once students find they can do something themselves, I see how excited they get about it,” Ewoldt said. “I feel that way about being an artist and working, and I hope other people will find that as well.”

In addition to accepting donations, Runfola said the CIADC also has a fundraising campaign running through the a crowdfunding organization Indiegogo. The center originally had the goal of raising $5,500, but it has raised $5,910, as of press time, since the campaign started Feb. 9. 

Although CIADC will need financial support, Runfola said it will also need volunteers to help set up a space that will be conducive for creative practices. 

“The CIADC will give people the ability to really learn skills and develop skills that are transferable into any type of career path,” Runfola said. “Problem-solving skills, gaining confidence and creative ways of thinking are the actual trade skills that they will learn by working with these materials.”