Frequently Asked Questions about Marwen
What is Marwen? +

Marwen is a nonprofit organization offering free, arts-based youth development programs for under-served Chicago students in grades 6-12. In a typical year, more than 900 students from almost 300 schools travel to Marwen, where they take classes designed and taught by practicing artists.

What kinds of programs does Marwen offer? +

Marwen offers visual arts courses and workshops.   Each course/workshop draws on one of these disciplines:
Digital Photography
Darkroom Photography
Time-Based Media (such as video, animation and sound art)
Interdisciplinary (combination of various disciplines in one program)
Mixed Media
Fiber (such as weaving)
Print Media (such as printmaking and book arts)

Marwen also offers courses and workshops to help guide you through the college application process, build visual art portfolios, and think about career planning.  We also organize college visits and have ACT practice testing.

Am I eligible to participate in Marwen programs? +

There are five requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible to take classes at Marwen. 


1. You must be a resident of the city of Chicago.  Unfortunately this doesn’t include suburbs!

2. You must be a student in grades 6-12. You are not eligible to take classes at Marwen until the fall of your 6th grade year (not the summer before!). 12th graders are eligible to take courses at Marwen the summer after they graduate from high school.

3. Your family must be under-served, meaning you cannot afford art classes elsewhere. Because we want to be as accessible as possible, we do not require any documentation proving a certain level of income to determine eligibility.  Instead we operate on a system of trust, asking you to evaluate your financial situation with your family.  We maintain a list of fee-based programs for those who determine they are not under-served. If you are unsure about this eligibility requirement, please contact us!

4. You must be able to work independently on a project for up to three hours.

5. You must be self-electing to come and actively participate in Marwen programs.

You must meet all five of these requirements to be eligible for Marwen programs with no exceptions. 
If you have any questions, please contact Karen (312.374.2911) or Barbara (312.374.2971), Registrar.

What is the schedule for programs at Marwen? +

Marwen has three terms per calendar year, one for the Spring, Summer, Fall. 

During the Spring and Fall terms, courses meet once a week for 10 weeks. Courses are scheduled Tuesday-Thursday from 5 - 7:30pm, or Saturday from 10am-12:30pm and 1:30-4pm. 

The Summer term courses are scheduled differently. They meet Monday-Friday from 10am-12:30pm, 1:30-4pm, or 4:30-7pm for two weeks.

Workshops and events take place at various times.

How do I sign up? What is New Student Orientation? +

If you have never taken classes at Marwen before, you must attend New Student Orientation in order to enroll.  Orientation is an opportunity to hear about our policies, guidelines and mission, get a tour of our studios, meet staff and teachers, and speak individually with a program counselor. 

After completing the New Student Orientation, you will officially register as a Marwen student, and enroll in Marwen programs.  You will leave that day knowing what course you are taking in the upcoming term!  

Please remember:

  • You do not need to pre-register for orientation.
  • You must attend the appropriate orientation session for your grade level with no exceptions.  
  • Spaces are limited and students are registered first come-first served, so early arrival is highly recommended. 
  • Late entry is not permitted.  
  • The student must be present for orientation in order to register for programs at Marwen. Parents can’t register for you! 
  • No paperwork, documents or identification are needed at orientation.  We will provide all the necessary forms for you to fill out.

Learn more about the next scheduled New Student Orientation.

I have no art experience. Can I still participate? +

Absolutely!  Most Marwen programs do not require any experience for participation, and many of our new students have little to no experience making art.

I can't come to the next New Student Orientation. Can I still participate? +

Unfortunately, you cannot participate in our programs unless you attend New Student Orientation.  However, we have three New Student Orientations every year, one before each term.  If you can’t make it this time around, keep checking our website or contact us for information on the next New Student Orientation!

Remember, if you don’t have a ride or don’t have an adult to accompany you, we may be able to help!  Contact us if these are the issues preventing you from attending New Student Orientation.

What do I need to bring to my Marwen class? +

Marwen provides all supplies and equipment needed for each course.  The only thing you need to bring is your focus and passion for learning about art!

How do I register as a returning student? +

If you have enrolled in a Marwen program in the past year, you are a returning student and do not have to attend New Student Orientation!

All you need to do is submit your online registration form during the designated time.  Returning student registration for a given term usually begins in the last week of the term before it.  For example, returning students who want to register for the Spring Term may start submitting registration forms during the last week of the Fall Term.

Registration is online. Forgot your password? You can reset it now. Watch a video to learn how to reset your password.

Forgot your username or email address associated with your account? Contact Karen or Barbara, Registrars.

Does Marwen offer classes for school credit? +

Some Chicago schools accept Marwen courses as enrichment credits or make-up credits. Please check with your school. We do not give registration priority to students seeking to take a class for school credit.

Can Marwen help me get to college? +

There is an entire department at Marwen devoted to getting you into college!  Our College and Career Department offers ACT practice tests, portfolio-building workshops, informative family forums, and college field trips every year.  All free of charge!  We also have a team of knowledgeable counselors, who are happy to schedule appointments with you and your family for individual help. 
If you have any more questions about college help at Marwen, check out College and Career's page and contact us!

Where is Marwen and how can I get there? +

The Marwen building is located in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, at 833 N Orleans Street. The closest major intersection is Orleans Street and Chicago Avenue. We are just three blocks from the Chicago stop on the Brown Line, and about eight blocks from the Chicago stop on the Red Line.

Does Marwen offer transportation assistance? +

Marwen student transcripts can be used to obtain a CTA student reduced fare riding permit.  Once you become a Marwen student, you can get a copy of your transcript in order to get a reduced rate on the CTA both during the school year and all summer.
If you anticipate having a difficult time paying for transportation to and from Marwen, please let us know.

I have more questions. Who can I contact? +

If you have any questions about becoming a Marwen student, you can contact Karen Quinteros, 312.374.2911, kquinteros@marwen.org, or Barbara Banda, 312.374.2971, bbanda@marwen.org.

No hablo ingles. Con quién me puedo comunicar? +

Aunque todos los cursos de Marwen son en ingles, hay varios empleados de Marwen que hablan español.  Si tiene preguntas acerca de matricular un estudiante nuevo en nuestros programas de arte, por favor comuníquese con Karen Quinteros, kquinteros@marwen.org, 312.374.2911 o Barbara Banda, bbanda@marwen.org, 312.374.2971.

current students become a student
registration courses
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