North Branch Projects uses the book arts to expand the creative reach of individuals. Dialogue is encouraged between people in an inclusive setting, making it possible for ideas to be shared positively amongst neighbors and beyond. The studio community fosters an open approach to sharing work with new audiences and encourages collaboration and integration.
North Branch Projects is an artist-run organization based in Albany Park, Chicago, IL, that offers community bookbinding experiences. The project provides an outlet for exploring the creative process in places where few resources for the arts exist, or where the role of art may be viewed as secondary or insignificant. There are two major components to the project:
The first is an ongoing community binding initiative that serves as the foundation of the mission. Free to all, these organized gatherings have participants working on a collaborative hand-made book archive, binding individuals together quite literally in a group workshop setting.
The second is an entrepreneurial venture that funds the majority of the community binding efforts. Bookbinding workshops are held in various locations and custom-made books and related objects are sold in conjunction with the bindery's goals of promoting art to the general public.
North Branch Projects was founded by Chicago-based artist, Regin Igloria, who started the project in a storefront as an extension of his own studio practice. Originally located in the business district of the Albany Park neighborhood, the Lawrence Avenue storefront occupied 1500 square feet with exhibition and studio rental spaces located in the rear.
With overhead costs preventing the continuation and progress of the project, the move to make North Branch Projects more mobile became a necessity. The storefront closed in November 2014 and began operating on a pop-up basis, offering workshops at various arts organizations, cultural institutions, schools, cafes, and other public and private venues.
In January of 2018, North Branch Projects found a welcoming studio space in the basement of the Read/Write Library in Humboldt Park. With the many familiar community connections, values, and appreciation for books, paper, and ephemera, the library proved to be a perfect space for the Neighborhood Archive to be housed along with enough tools and materials to offer monthly Community Binding Sessions.
Since the fall of 2018, North Branch Projects has an organized a Board of Directors and is moving towards officially becoming a 501c3 non-profit organization.