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Art Expressing Your Coronavirus Feelings Sought In Contest Hosted By Rogers Park Nonprofit

Circles & Ciphers is seeking poetry, freestyles, artwork, songs, and Tik Tok videos related to the coronavirus outbreak. First prize is $250.

Rogers Park-based Circles & Ciphers is holding a coronavirus-themed art contest.
Courtesy Circles & Ciphers
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ROGERS PARK — A Rogers Park nonprofit is asking Chicago residents to channel their feelings on the coronavirus outbreak into works of art — with contest winners receiving a cash prize.

Circles & Ciphers, a hip-hop infused restorative justice organization, has launched a contest called the #SocialDistanceChallenge. The contest is calling for artwork submissions that express the artists’ thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic, measures like social distancing and the government’s response to the outbreak.

“We said, what can we do for people feeling this outbreak in some level?” said Akeem Soyan, creative arts liaison for Circles & Ciphers. “We thought that doing something creative could help people out.”

Works of art that can be submitted include poems, freestyles, artwork, songs, spoken word, dance routines, Tik Tok videos and other short videos, according to Circles & Ciphers.

The idea for the contest is to get people busy with creative projects during this time of social distancing and self quarantining. It can also help people connect virtually, the group said.

“There are people who don’t have a lot to do,” said Marko Stats, a member of Circles & Ciphers. “We still want to promote that creativity, to encourage people to do something positive.”

Entries are due by April 10. To submit entries, post the work of art to social media using the hashtag #SocialDistanceChallenge and #mystateofmind and make sure to tag @circles_ciphers.

Three winners will be chosen. Some works of art will be shared on Circles & Ciphers’ social media pages, where fans can weigh in. A group of judges will pick winners on the best impact on spreading positivity and awareness during the social distancing period.

First place will receive $250 and five credit hours at Circle & Cipher’s new recording studio in Rogers Park. Second place will receive $150 and five hours of studio time, while third place will receive $100 and five hours of studio time.

Circles & Ciphers will award the prizes based on need and to kids and adults under 30. Other demographics can submit artwork to the competition, and those that are judged well will receive a Circles & Ciphers gift package that also includes studio time.

The prizes could also help creatives who, like workers in the food and hospitality industries, are facing a loss of working during the outbreak, Soyan said.

Founded in 2010 in Rogers Park, Circles & Ciphers uses art like hip hop ciphers and hosts peace circle talks (hence the name “Circles & Ciphers”) to help young people talk about their problems and receive mentorship. The group also hosts inter-generational peace circles for members of the Rogers Park community to come together.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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