Every Wednesday evening on DePaul’s campus, dozens of students gather to promote and showcase their artistic talents.
Whether it be rap, poetry, dance and everything in between, the student run organization. CHIDirects has given more than a handful of students a platform for their work to shine.
The organization, which was created two years ago by students, was initially launched under the name DPUDirects, only to change after some of the talent and participants began coming from outside of campus.
“We started the student organization DPUDirects to give a platform at DePaul University for people to come and show their talent,” said Rey Carpio, a DePaul senior and one of the creators of the organization. “We changed the name to CHIDirects once we started collaborating with other people for events, such as a music video party in Pilsen over the summer.”
The weekly CHIDirects events are open to anyone – DePaul student or not – and they also welcome newcomers who are new to their craft or just breaking in. The artistic talent behind the organization is undeniable, and having a platform to demonstrate your skills and grow as an artist is important for all who dabble in artistic performance.
“Anyone in Chicago can attend and participate. We love seeing new faces,” Carpio said. “I want to express that every art is welcome and it’s a place for people to collide and collaborate.”
CHIDirects also offers video performance services in case people want to share their work outside of the organization and on social media. From music videos, event filming or short film videos, CHIDirects has earned itself the title as one of the most professional organizations at DePaul.
“Artists have met video producers at our events, and have collaborated on music videos from that,” said Carpio. “There’s always opportunity from jumping outside the box to getting an animator to take your song and bring it to life, or a poem for a filmmaker to make a video about.”
And while CHIDirects continues to thrive with its growing audience, it wasn’t always a weekly event of both student and Chicago artists.
“At the beginning, we only hosted three events in the quarter. All by promoting, we got great turnouts of 30 or more. The following quarter, we began making open mics every week,” Carpio said. “Our audiences have increased every week and are steadily 40 to 60 people a week. Now we can guarantee we will have enough performers to fill the slots and audience to make for a good event.”
For Milton Olivares, a junior sociology major at DePaul, his job is to control these 40 to 60 people in the crowds every week, making sure the energy stays up at CHIDirects.
“I think we are now able to go into every event knowing it will go well. We have been on campus long enough for us to have an established group of performers who are more than eager to practice their art in front of us,” Olivares said. “My role as a host is to address the crowd, introduce artists, and give reminders of our future events.”
“As well as keeping the energy of the audience high, especially if we are running low on performances,” he added.
Olivares, who has been with the organization since its creation two years ago, has watched CHIDirects grow as a platform with the number of audience members growing each week. Sticking by the organization along with Carpio, Olivares has also helped promote the organization across campus and the city in order to spread the word about CHIDirects.
“We have overwhelmingly good nights when the amount of signups is high. Those are the nights where we leave with a smile from ear to ear,” Olivares said. “My favorite event was the last open mic of Spring 2016. We had live instrumentals being played and people freestyling on stage. We had the Student center jumping!”
And much like Olivares and Carpio, Celia Borg remembers the beginnings of CHIDirects, and just how far this once small student organization has grown into a professional run business platform.
“I’m on the E-Board of CHIDirects as one of the founders along with Rey and Milton. All three of us are roommates and one day Rey had this idea to want to showcase people’s talents because he found there was a lack of that at DePaul,” Borg said. “So we all came together and made it happen.”
Borg writes for CHIDirect’s website, doing updates on the open mics, as well as music, movie reviews, and other pop culture events happening around Chicago, but every now and then she performs.
Whether it be poetry or rap, Borg has found an artistic home in the organization she helped create for others for that very same reason. Like it has for many, CHIDirects has helped Borg grow as an artist and develop further skills and talents that will add to the quality of her work. But more than that, CHIDirects has been inspiring for her, along with many others.
“CHIDirects honestly always makes me inspired every time I attend an open mic and see all this immense talent from all these different people outside Chicago, not just limited to DePaul,” Borg said. “It inspires me as a writer to create more and even work harder.”