Helen Slade

Artist Statement

How is the City your studio? "Territory works in public: the city is our canvas, our clients are neighborhood organizations, and our design teams include teens from all “sides” of Chicago. Our studio is a platform for teens to use their urban expertise and social skills to enact meaningful change in their own communities."

Featured Artist Portrait by Joe Mazza | Brave Lux Chicago

Territory is an urban design studio. We empower young people with design expertise so they can make Chicago a healthier city for diverse communities. Territory partners with clients who share our belief that young people can create a friendlier, more equitable city through design. Our design teams come from all over the city, representing different high schools, different cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, and different skill levels. We work in-residence in our host community. In the past year, our studio has transformed public spaces in Uptown, Albany Park, and the Loop.
Teens are the future of our city. They are adaptable, adventuresome, and sassy, and they want to express themselves. Territory creates the opportunity for young people to find their voice through design, using their own city as a canvas and their own urban expertise as their toolkit. Territory unleashes the passion, intensity, and impact of young designers on the city.
What's Next?
Territory is transitioning from a season employment program into a year round design services program that includes employment and career readiness, entrepreneurship, and community wellness through design. In addition to our social service partners, we are working with business districts and community groups to develop a social enterprise business model. Our goal is to give teens the opportunity to progress from design apprentices into leaders of other young people, working on urban design projects that they have identified in their own communities.
Helen Slade is the Director of Territory NFP. She began her career as an artist-curator in Seattle, doing provocative interdisciplinary exhibitions and public art projects. She is a licensed architect in Chicago with a Masters in Architecture from the University of Illinois-Chicago. In 2011 she launched Territory with architects Rashmi Ramaswamy and Mike Newman. Territory has been recognized by the Propeller Fund, Spontaneous Interventions: Chicago, Structures for Inclusion, and LearnXDesign 2015. Over 100 teens have participated in Territory through programs with After School Matters, One Summer Chicago, GreenCorps, Alternatives Inc., the 33rd and 48th Wards, and neighborhood organizations across Chicago.