Interview: Amara Betty Martin of Q4 on EMPACT!

About a year ago I stumbled into a gallery in Wicker Park and walked out with a big old art-nerd heart-throbbing crush for CRO. However, that same evening I met someone who would become one of my favorite people of all time, Amara Betty Martin. Since then, I’d see her at occasional events and correspond casually about all the incredible work she’s always promoting and organizing at one of the Chi’s chillest and most influential spots, Q4.

Now for those of you who don’t know, whether in its previous West Humboldt Park era, with that amazing basement where you could just kick it to killer music while other events and art shows always tickled the mind upstairs, or at its current location in Wicker Park in a shared space with Multikulti, Q4 has remained a staple of Chicago’s legendary underground, activist and art/music scene for what seems like forever.

Amara is the kind of person who exudes tranquil brilliance. You know behind her intellectual gaze there’s some good old Chicago realness waiting to burst out. She uses those skills as one of Q4’s front persons and organizers. In support of today’s fundraiser, aiding the Chicago Women’s Health Center. The event name EMPACT! stands for Everyone’s Music Politics Activist Community Throwdown. With a name like that, you now it’s gonna be good. Show your support and pack up the place people! There promises to be raffle prizes, incredible spoken word performances and a whole lot more.


3/8 – 7pm

1000 N. Milwaukee Ave.

So, I guess we were chatting via the Facialnetwork and I was all wow, who are you? Where’d you come from, what’s your story? Because, frankly you struck me as delightful when we met at the Sex, Spraypaint and Satire show opening.  Tell me about your work with Q4.

I’m excited as well! I was glad to have met you and to have connected again. I am also very flattered by your interest in myself and the Q4 collaborative.

I wouldn’t say I work for Quennect 4, my partners and I are Q4 and and we work together by pulling our resources and organizing events that help to support the arts, non-profits and activism for our community. Q4 is a small group of friends, family, that are united through our vision to create a self sustaining arts community that is active and vibrant. We do this through maintaining connections to our community which extends city wide, and event global. It’s a community effort, and I work in organizing events, artist and community outreach, promotions and managing most of Q4’s projects. Our organization is also partnered with RGB Lounge in Wicker Park, and I organize events for that space as well. I wear a lot of hats.

Our biggest project which I’m working on is the launch of our radio station project. It’s community based broadcasting, online and on 1710 AM in Wicker Park, for now. This is one of the ways we are branching out, and we are so happy to be able to offer this resource to everyone. It’s another avenue we can provide for people to express themselves.

And, I’m always working on photography projects which do do on my free time. I focus a lot on urban environments, mostly documenting my surroundings as I travel across the city.

What are your thoughts or experience with helping organizing EMPACT?

Working in this “EMPACT” fundraiser for “International Women’s Day” has been exciting and a learning experience. Learning in the sense of organizing a full event from start to finish from the talent to the promotion to all the little things in between with nothing but phenomenal women (specifically my partner in this project Ruthie and the women of CWHC) all around to inspire, guide and support me.

The exciting part comes from finding some of the same qualities like the strength, talent and sheer personality of these women in myself. This has added a new dimension to my own femininity and confidence as a woman. The fact that we are all rallying around supporting the “Chicago Womens Health Center” is a testament to the solidarity that exists between all the women involved.

What does it mean for you to have your work in the show?

My art has a focus on issues that not only speak of my experience as a woman living through intense political times as well as through spiritually challenging ones as well. My work explores themes of social justice, cultural and sexual identity, gentrification and finding peace through a connection to the past. A reflection of the many issues surrounding not only women but people all over the world.