Eric Williams is the founder and creative director of the Silver Room, an innovative retail, arts, education and community events space opened in 1997. The Silver Room intersects the worlds of fashion, music and visual art, and acts as a boutique, gallery, and community arts center. Williams is committed to creating spaces and curating events that strengthen communities and fuel positive economic impact.

The Silver Room has hosted a number of large-scale events, most notably the Sound System Block Party, which attracted more than 15,000 attendees in 2016. The 3 day CONNECT Hyde Park Arts Festival, a collaboration with the University of Chicago, activates empty storefronts near the university with pop-up art exhibits and speakers organized by some of Chicago’s leading curators. For the past two decades, Williams has shaped his practice to be responsive to the core needs of the creative urban community he serves. To address the systems that create disenfranchisement, his work provides space, support, and programming designed to foster equity for people of color and other marginalized communities.

During his Loeb Fellowship, Williams will focus on conducting research to create a practical model based on The Silver Room’s success as a for-profit, people centered art and community enterprise. He will leverage the expertise of the Loeb Fellowship community to strengthen his leadership and ability to identify and employ proven best practices that solidify the linkage of art and retail as a successful community and economic development model. Williams’ intention is to implement and replicate his model in the broader community of Chicago and nationwide.

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