The opening celebration of the Gordon Parks Arts Hall at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools was held over the weekend of October 2, 2015. The Gordon Parks Arts Hall, recently opened on the schools’ historic Hyde Park campus, will support programs in theater, music and the visual arts with new performance halls, studios, rehearsal and practice rooms, a digital media lab, and more.

The dedication ceremony featured an arts panel of Ryan Coogler, Francis Ford Coppola, Theaster Gates, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Koons, and Janelle Monáe, moderated by Mellody Hobson. There was also a celebration for the Laboratory School families, with student demonstrations, and a panel discussion led by Paul Roth, with Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Genevieve (Gene) Young, Michal Raz-Russo, Leslie Parks, and Mario Sprouse. 

Gordon Parks Arts Hall is Lab’s first space created for education in all of the arts. Students who aspire to become artists in any medium will be able to develop their skills at the highest possible level. Students who enjoy the practice or consumption of art on a more casual basis will draw inspiration from their surroundings. Even students who profess no interest in any art form whatsoever will have an opportunity to stretch their horizons—and perhaps discover a passion or a new interest.

“Art is the most effective mode of communication that exists,” Dewey said. Through the arts, we share ideas, emotions, even problems and solutions. The arts can change lives, or simply make them more enjoyable to live.

Gordon Parks Arts Hall is a fitting tribute to the legacy of its namesake and the future of the Laboratory Schools, and will fuel the creativity of its students and faculty.