Little Black Pearl’s Founder and Executive Director, Monica Haslip, is a compelling voice on behalf of children and the arts.

Alabama bred, Monica’s love affair with visual arts began while attending the Alabama School of Fine Arts and continued through her higher education at Atlanta College of Art. It was in these environments that she discovered the beauty and complexities of Art & Culture.

However, Monica’s passion for art never ceased, her desire to highlight the importance of African-Americans in every aspect of life, especially in the arts, was very profound. Her mission resulted in the creation of Little Black Pearl (LBP). The organization, founded in 1994, is an innovative Arts and Culture Institution designed to create positive vehicles for children to thrive. Her philosophy and art practice is anchored by her belief in the power and impact of “Love”.  The primary vision for Little Black Pearl is to serve as a laboratory of human potential. 

Twenty-three years ago Ms. Haslip gave birth to the community treasure that is Little Black Pearl. As quoted from Monica, “I dreamed of creating a space where children would feel safe, honored and empowered. LBP has surpassed my wildest dreams and aspirations. Building this organization has not been without its peaks and valleys, but it has been by far the most consistent positive presence in my life.”

Today Little Black Pearl is a premiere Art and Design Center that houses enterprising visual arts studios including pottery, wood, metal, painting, glass, photography and technology/multi-media.  LBP offers contemporary rental space for corporate and individual events; provides adult classes for art, fitness and self‑development; and quality visual arts education and entrepreneurship training for youth ages 12-19. Additionally, LBP houses its Teen Tech Center, a space that allows youth drop-in opportunities for technology and digital media learning. On the horizon for Spring 2017 is Carver 47—a public juice bar and experience café. The Art and Design Center serves as an innovative and collaborative learning and social environment for youth and adults within the Kenwood/Oakland, Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Bronzeville communities.

Ms. Haslip has passionately advocated for real solutions to the epidemic of youth violence recognized in the City of Chicago and nationally. She was among twelve leaders honored by President Barack Obama, as part of the White House Champions of Change and the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, for their efforts toward addressing youth violence through programmatic engagement.

In 2013 Ms. Haslip expanded Little Black Pearl’s educational initiatives by opening a high school through a Chicago Public Schools contract. Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy (LBPA) serves a capacity of 200 student’s (grades 9-12) with rigorous academic programming and emphasis in visual arts and technology, music, dance, graphic design and architecture. This vehicle has created an opportunity for Little Black Pearl to operate a district school, allowing a community based organization an impactful role in creating a more effective educational experience for African American youth.

Ms. Haslip’s contribution to the world of arts education has deemed her one of the most respected leaders in the fields of community arts, youth advocacy and cultural development. It is in the spirit of giving and leadership; and with the support of board, staff, students, parents, volunteers, friends and most of all family; that Monica has built an institution that we can all be proud of.