Arts Of Life - North Shore Studio


In Partnership with advocate health care

Arts of Life advances the creative arts community by providing artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities a collective space to expand their practice and strengthen their leadership.

Each studio artist faces challenges in overcoming their disabilities to create meaningful works of art and in being recognized in the larger arts community. This is the first large scale public installation for their artists, providing a tremendous opportunity for professional growth and pride.

Sandie Bacon & John Hatlestad



Both John and Sandie are honored to have opportunities to share their artistic vision(s) to the world: through public art installations, teaching to a wide community base, and through their artwork. John’s work is about recycling items in combination with his woodworking that were discarded in order to honor them, and give them dignity and respect. Sandie’s work is about the fragility of ecosystems, and how we need to nurture all of the environment to cherish what we need to protect.

Lisa Birmingham

SPONSORED BY bridgeview bank group

Lisa Birmingham is The Chicago Lighthouse’s Chief Creative Director. Prior to her appointment with the Lighthouse, she was the staff medical illustrator for the Ophthalmology Department at The University of Illinois at Chicago. For over twenty five years, Lisa has developed a deep understanding of eye anatomy and has been in awe of the beauty of its various tissues and structures. The partnership of a medical illustrator with physicians and researchers helps advance medicine in the treatment and prevention of eye disease. So while the primary purpose of the art is educational, one can’t help appreciate the beauty that exists in the human body.

Blick Chicago Loop: Megan Fasbenner, Nikki Kazmar & Julia Polay


Sponsored by 500 North Michigan Avenue

Blick Art Materials in the Chicago Loop champions the idea that art is for everyone.  

With their design, they use the symbolism of bees and chrysanthemums to illustrate how art, represented by the bees, is essential for a balance in our cultural ecosystem. For several individuals with disabilities, making art offers them a chance to bloom in ways they might not otherwise have been able to access. Painting, drawing, sculpture, and so many other mediums give accessibility to those that face limitations- a unique and powerful opportunity to have their voice heard.

Ruby Bradford - Project Onward


In partnership with illinois state toll highway authority

Ruby Bradford (b. 1984) draws and paints in a relaxed bold style with unrepressed focus on her personal interests: Superman, Prince Charles, and cats. Bold characters and fantastical narrative seem to drive her, though the interest in Superman evidently runs deep.

A deeply private person, Bradford uses these icons – and her favorite animal – as symbols for caring and belonging. As the artist explains, the “S” on Superman’s emblem stands for hope on his home planet. She thus combines her favorite celebrities or close friends with cats and/or superhero apparel, morphing the whole into a new reality. This is the highest honor a patron could receive from the artist, and Bradford’s use of dry humor and her panache are irresistible to her many followers.

Bradford started working at Project Onward in its inaugural year, 2004.

Michael Bryant - Project Onward


in partnership with illinois joining forces

Michael Bryant (b. 1958, Birmingham, AL), also known as “Michael Angelo Imhotep Bryant”, is a painter and poet. His works have been published in the Journal of Ordinary Thought and he has been represented by Project Onward since 2010. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Bryant moved to Chicago with his parents, sister, and brothers in 1968 to find more opportunities and equality.

Love & The Machine - Dan Capuli, Amy Loevy & Edwin Capuli




Love & The Machine is a creative company for those who don't think love is a four-letter word. In fact, love is what brands should strive for. Love is infectious. Love builds loyalty. Love is powerful.

Carrie Carlson 


sponsored by novak construction

Carrie’s mission is to promote appreciation of diversity. As a scientific illustrator and environmentalist, much of her recent artwork has been in support of local prairie restoration. Diversity in the grassland ecosystem supports a healthy variety of plants and animals. Respecting diversity and protecting inclusiveness in the human population is even more important. As a high school educator, she has had the privilege and joy to teach some remarkable young adults with vision impairments. I am humbled by their optimism, tenacity, and patience. These students have inspired her to be extra creative in lesson planning and even more diligent with classroom inclusiveness. Through these young adults, she became more aware of personal challenges and opportunities faced by people with vision impairments – and even more empathetic in general.”



Jim Carroll - The Pet Impressionist


sponsored by richard & Patricia schnadig

I create beautiful art for people who love pets. From my clients’ photos, I create original custom portraits and scenes. I strive to capture not only the likeness of the animals we adore but also a view into their character, their nobility and the love we share with them.  I’ve wrapped our lighthouse sculpture with an impressionist portrait of my fascinating 81year-old neighbor, Pat, and her guide dog, Carson, walking at the busy corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway in Chicago.  Our title, “Lighting My Path”, is her idea. It encapsulates what the Chicago Lighthouse organization has meant to her for the past half of her life.

Please click the Audio File in the black bar above to hear more about Pat’s inspiring story and a detailed description of the lighthouse painting.  Also, visit my Instagram and Facebook pages, @petimpressionist , and my website, www.petimpressionist.com to see photos and videos of our lighthouse being created and finished.

Haman Cross 3


sponsored by the mart

Haman is invested in the process of creating connections, collaborations, and communicating truth through art. He embraces the opportunity to journey with those who experience art and creativity. The experience is significant in relation to our ability to know our world as one that is changeable, accessible, and adaptable. Everything he creates is anchored in his desire to facilitate awareness, share vision, and contribute to the effort of evolving consciousness. Medium and media as conduits in the process present no limit to possibility. Exploring these possibilities and expressing its infinite abundance is paramount to his practice.

Friedman Place Weavers

All artists are disabled and blind or visually impaired


sponsored by grand hotel, Mackinac island, michigan

Located on the northwest side of Chicago, Friedman Place is a nonprofit Supportive Living Program for adults who are blind or visually impaired. Their Therapeutic Weaving Program teaches the skills of weaving, sewing, and other textile arts to adults who are blind or visually impaired, all of whom are disabled. Participants experience physical and psychological benefits, including through the encouragement of personal growth and promotion of individual and group creativity. The program tells an important story of inclusion and the finished products are concrete examples of the skills and abilities of persons with disabilities and the value of being included in all aspects of the broader society. Their public message is conveyed through the various venues where their products are sold and displayed throughout the year and the associated stories and descriptions of how they were created and by whom.

Gabby Ciuteikis


sponsored by icon poly

Gabrielle’s mission is to make people feel happy from her art. She aspires the viewers of her art to take in the bright and vivid colors she constantly uses. The colors are a form of representation of hope and positivity. It brings any of her works to life, which is a very important component to her. With many negative incidents today, it is easy to get caught up in the negativity. On the other hand, she wants her art to be an escape from that for her viewers.

Louis DeMarco - Project Onward


in partnership with illinois department of human rights & jetpay

Louis DeMarco (b. 1985) is an artist, musician, designer, and writer with particular interest in creating personal mythologies and motivational hyperbole in order to examine his experiences. His extensive mapping and architectural designs for “Loudemar,” a mythological island and home to his mind’s fortress, express a deep desire for belonging, safety, and simply having things one’s way. A natural comedian, DeMarco infuses humor into serious topics such as disappointment, anxiety, paranoia and relationship negotiations through his series of “Words to Live By” signs, executed in a brilliantly colored Simpsons-esque palatte. Originally a riff off of “brain cloud” in the comedy classic Joe Versus the Volcano – charting and mapping continue in DeMarco’s popular Cloud Chart series, which catalog “bad states,” followed later by a series of antidotes (“positive states”) in the Halo Chart series.

DeMarco is also an accomplished bass player for the rock band DHF Express, fronted by fellow Project Onward artist Adam Hines. He joined Project Onward in 2005 and currently lives in West Town.

William Douglas - Project Onward


sponsored by national association of realtors

Bill Douglas (b. 1967) hails from Knoxville, Tennessee and draws upon this substantial creative home in his work. Tennessean local artworks based on folk and craft techniques, and personal, spiritual stories have a special resonance in the artist’s extensive array of objects and images. His compositional strength comes not only from drawing, but also from collecting and fusing objects and materials. Through woodcarving, bone painting, assemblage, collage, and on canvas and paper, Douglas masterfully mixes melancholy with humor.

Bill received his BFA at University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his MFA from the University of Illinois, Chicago. The artist joined Project Onward in 2014 and lives Oak Park.

Lauren Feece


sponsored by best western river north hotel

Lauren’s mission as an artist is to connect humans to each other, to nature, to power, to healing, to energy, to change. For this project in particular she uses her medium to create imagery that emphasizes ability of humans to make positive change by tapping into the power of healing and strength in nature. In nature we come to a relationship beyond individual experience. Humans can go beyond their limited experience and move into a connected consciousness that supports each part of a unified whole. Her imagery also taps into our potential to connect to an infinite power source, and with this power we have the ability to affect profound and lasting change.

Margery Rudoy Gould & Layne Jackson - Team Margery

Margery: www.instagram.com/ninetyfouryearsyoung

Layne: https://laynejackson.com / www.instagram.com/laynejacksondesigns

sponsored by leopardo construction

Margery Rudoy Gould, (b. 1922), worked as a sculptor for many years before taking up the brush and painting daily. Her colorful art of flowers and portraits is her passion and sales of her artwork enable her to give to many worthy causes. Much of the profits go to materials for baking and knitting, and she and her crew make weekly delivery of baked goods and woolen caps to the women’s shelters.

Layne Jackson is a full time Visual Artist working at the intersection of realism and abstraction. Painting botanical shapes and forms, rendered as pattern to create familiar imagery in a contemporary context, Jackson is exploring the effect of color and shape applied to found forms in the natural world. Jackson worked for the Texas State Library, reading for the visually impaired and continues to work on projects for the greater good.

Margery and Layne have been working together for many years as student and teacher, and this is the first opportunity to share a creative project. They admire each other’s talents and both artists have deeply engrained beliefs in inclusion for all and are honored to contribute to this project in support of the services provided by the Chicago Lighthouse.

Rich Green


sponsored by larry & Susanne broutman

You will usually find Rich Green dreaming up new characters and worlds for his next children’s book project. He works primarily digitally, but also enjoys putting a pencil to paper or paint on a brush now and then as well. He has illustrated several children’s books and is currently working on a series of illustrations for Larry Broutman’s Chicago Treasure which is expected to be released later this year. Rich’s personal work is now being shown in galleries and art shows throughout the year. He is the Network Representative for the SCBWI-IL Chicago-Area Illustrators Network, an executive board member of The Artist Guild of Lockport and a member of The Romeoville Art Society. Rich graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Computer Graphics and Animation. He lives in Joliet, IL with his faithful dog Annie by his side all day as he creates.

Anne F. Hanley


sponsored by Moraine valley community college

Anne is an artist living in Wheaton, Illinois, but works in her studio daily in Chicago. She has been painting and selling her work in art fairs and galleries across the country since 2000.

She has a BA from Illinois State University in art and design. She worked as an art director for multi-image and video productions for National Sale Conventions. She decided to stay home and raise her three daughters and return to painting!

She works alternating layers of 400 degree wax and watercolor paint. When all wax is removed on completion, the painting reveals itself in layers of imagery.

Jeff Hanson



sponsored by huber financial advisors

Jeffrey Owen Hanson is an award-winning philanthropic artist on a mission to change the world through art. Visually impaired since childhood from neurofibromatosis, Jeffrey’s acrylic-on-canvas works employ bold color and heavily sculptured texture to create a striking signature style. Jeffrey’s commissioned paintings reside with art collectors around the globe, including Sir Elton John, Warren E. Buffett and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. While Jeffrey enjoys a very successful career as an artist, his philanthropic spirit has resulted in more than 200 nonprofit organizations benefitting from his auctioned works. Artwork gifted to charity has generated over $3 million dollars! Next up: $10 Million by 30!

Jeffrey believes “Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all…even one painting at a time.”

Jennifer Hiser - 4Everly Adorned


in partnership with: 

access living

 hadley institute for the blind and visually impaired

 anixter center

Jennifer Hiser's company, 4Everly Adorned. sells hand-painted furniture and other room décor for a cause. She grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, IL. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, as well as a Certification in Graphic & Digital Design from Parsons School of Design – New York City. Professionally, she has explored numerous creative outlets ranging from working at well-known fashion magazines in New York City, to designing soft accessories for a global fashion brand in Chicago. While these experiences allowed her to grow as an artist and business woman, she always felt more so inclined to pursue her own niche and individual style of art. Designing pieces of furniture for my daughter’s nursery is what ultimately led her to starting her own business.

Sara Renae Holloway


sponsored by lurie children's hospital of Chicago

Sara’s mission is one of individual attention and inclusive education. We all have unique minds and something very important to offer each other and it starts with patience and compassion. Art is her medium and she believes it plays a vital role in helping others understand how truly important it is that we equally embrace our similarities and differences.

David Holt - Project Onward & Cassidy Winston

sponsored by special olympics illinois

David Holt (b. 1984) expressed an early interest in music, romance and celebrities through his artwork as a member of Chicago’s Gallery 37, an after-school job-training program in the arts. In 2009, with the death of his grandmother, Holt turned his attention to obituaries, or “memorial portraits” of important persons. His canvas painting and drawings on cardboard are direct and show his sense of immediacy – he begins to work as soon as obituaries are posted and drawings are typically finished in one day.

Holt is active participant in Special Olympics programming in softball, basketball, and weight lifting. He was recently interviewed for an article in the Chicago Sun-Times featuring his artwork, and is active in the autism advocacy community. Holt joined Project Onward in 2006 and currently lives in the South Chicago neighborhood.


Cassidy Winston is no stranger to the word “inclusion.”  At a young age, Cassidy would be seen cheering for and with athletes at Special Olympics Illinois events, and has volunteered in numerous aspects for SOILL, numerous times.  Whether it is raising thousands of dollars while doing the SOILL Coaster Challenge, or standing near the drive-thru line at Dunkin Donuts collecting funds for the annual “LETR Cop on Top” event, Cassidy is often the first volunteer to step in when needed to support these athletes. 

Now at 17-years-old, it is amazing that he finds time to do what he says is “most important by helping others.”  Developing his aspiring acting career is another one of Cassidy’s passions, and he does so through his job as host of the WTTW Kids BIG IDEA outreach tour.  He juggles that job with his summer love of caddying for the golfers at Oak Park Country Club. 

When the opportunity arose to accompany and be guided by the vision of SOILL athlete, David Holt, to paint a lighthouse for The Chicago Lighthouse, Cassidy didn’t hesitate.  Like every opportunity to support a SOILL athlete, Cassidy viewed the invitation as an honor and attended each painting session with joy, while following David’s lead to make the project truly an inclusionary event.                  

Yu-hui Huang & Eduardo Arias

sponsored by gary & Michelle rich

Working as artists has brought Yu-hui and Eduardo into contact with diverse perceptions, ideas, and knowledge. Being able to take part in these exchanges drives them to create art that we hope touches people everywhere. They believe that one of the major responsibilities of artists is to help people not only get to know and understand with their minds but also to feel it emotionally and physically. The community created by arts is a great source of inspiration for activists who work to transcend the stigmatization of other people, positions, and worldviews sadly endemic in public today. They hope art will take part in discussions of social issues and artists will be included when leaders consider solutions to the challenges we face in the world today.

CJ Hungerman


sponsored by C&W Auto Body and Glass

The uniqueness of CJ’s art is from the successful use of dissonant colors and flat shapes to create the illusion of a 3 dimensional surreal environment. The medley of colors and intermingling shapes represents the diversity of people that reside in our communities. CJ utilizes layers of stencils to create the depth.

Brandin Hurley


sponsored by Locke Lord LLP & Steven H. Adelman

For Brandin, art has always been integral to life. It is his source of expression, my solidification of memory, a source of comfort and calm. It has the ability to simultaneously soothe and create a turbulent whirlwind of emotion. I believe that art, music, theater – any form of expression that has the ability to speak to the human condition, to communicate with individuals who span time, race, gender, country, and every other polarizing factor is vital to our souls and communities. It’s an incredible feeling to view a piece of art and feel that the artist, who may live a vastly different life than your own, is speaking directly to you; that they are describing an emotion or experience or memory that feels specific to you alone. It is our way of communicating throughout time and across continents. This is my simple goal with my art – to be true, genuine, and honest. To reach through my life, dreams, and memories, and create work that, if I’m lucky, will be understood and felt by another person. Hopefully it will be felt in a way that inspires them to create, to live, to remember.”

Sarah Jenkins


sponsored by Enterprise Air Conditioning/John & Pat Coleman

Through Sarah’s undergraduate experience in Community Arts at Wheaton College, she has had several opportunities to create public murals and mosaics. Through her mixed-media proposal for a lighthouse sculpture, she hopes to present the inclusion of individuals with disabilities as a beautiful collage highlighting the way in which different materials, including mosaic tiles, glass, and acrylic paint, can work together to form a harmonious whole. Up close and as individual broken pieces, these materials are unremarkable; but as a whole, they blend into a rhythmic and energetic dance. Her sculpture - with a visual call to ‘Join the Dance’ - is an invitation to us all to recognize each other’s unique strengths and creatively work together to include individuals with disabilities into our workplaces and communities.

Ken Klopack


sponsored by morningstar

Ken has been teaching art in the Chicago Public Schools since 1971 when he received his B.A. in art education from Northeastern Illinois University. He earned a Master’s Degree in Gifted Education in 1989 at Northeastern and also achieved a Type 75 Administrative Certificate from Northeastern in 1995. In 2005, Ken retired from CPS and currently works as an art education consultant and a visual artist in acrylics.

He was one of over one hundred artists invited to participate in creating a “Cool Globe”. His globe, entitled The Intelligent Earth, was displayed along the lakefront near Navy Pier through the summer of 2007. Ken’s work is also featured on the website SanteFeArtWorld.  Since 1978, Ken has been the political cartoonist for Nadig Newspapers.

Deborah Maris Lader


sponsored by Marvin and Carol Lader

Deborah Maris Lader (Artist, Musician, Performer, Administrator) is the Founder/Director of the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative since 1989, and member of the touring Altfolk band, Sons of the Never Wrong. Deborah exhibits her prints, drawings, photography, and mixed media artwork internationally.

She is a current member of the Mid America Print Council, the Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago Printers Guild and the American Print Alliance. Her artwork has been featured in numerous books and publications. Deborah also plays guitar, mandolin, and banjo and writes songs and sings with her band, which just released their 10th CD on Waterbug Records.

Kyle Langer


in partnership with cook county health and hospitals system

Kyle believes that mental disabilities and mental health are best discussed in an open setting. He uses his Twitch account to broadcast his work and simultaneously make it an open place for discussion about mental health. He paints very emotional and symbolic works that encourage people to talk about their mental state in a safe space. Kyle encourages his viewers to use creative outlets as a form of therapy for their mental health.

Michael Langmack

in partnership with university of illinois hospital & health sciences system

Michael has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in art from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Every piece has a strong story line that starts out in Michael’s head. Each piece tells the same story of a man who feels alienated and is trying to find his way home.

Holly Wolf-Mattick & The Prairie School


sponsored by 625 North Michigan

Holly Wolf-Mattick lives in Woodstock, Illinois with her husband and their two boys. She has explored various glass working processes since her first gather of hot glass in 1995. Holly received a BFA in ceramics from Washington University in St. Louis in May 1997, followed by a MFA in sculpture/glass at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in May 2002. Holly’s approach to public art projects is to create unique, engaging artwork for the specific space. When designing, Holly responds to the architecture, layout, audience, and use of the particular space, while retaining her signature style in her designs. Holly is a practicing artist and arts educator, teaching in the glass studio at the Prairie School in Wind Point, Wisconsin.

Kristine Koller-Metoyer

sponsored by BMO Harris Bank

Kristine’s mission is to express awareness of all disabilities. We all have and need a purpose to exist, and hope to fill our heart. Her public message is to all: you are not alone.

Her birth mother survived mental illness for 34 years on the streets of Chicago because of the people who cared and brought awareness. Her medium is on the front marker; she also uses acrylic and does many types of art and watercolor.

Hillary Laff-Meyers


sponsored by One Magnificent Mile

Hillary feels fortunate to have found a love for abstract painting. Experimenting with colors and textures without rules fills her soul. Her creations always have symbolic representations, which give them depth. She always pictures people like she does a blank canvas, with the potential to be a masterpiece. And just like art, when we take the time to get to know someone, and choose to look beyond their layers, we are often rewarded with something unexpected and spectacular that was not seen at first glance. The way in which we teach empathy and model kindness can provide wonderful color and light in each person’s canvas.

Hamza "IN-ZO" Muhammad

sponsored by chicago blackhawks

Hamza’s heartfelt mission as a creative artist is to communicate thought-provoking emotions, forge a sense of dignity and beauty for public art display content and messaging, capture the fullest extent of perception and humanity through his vivid colors and insightful designs, and deliver a responsible multi-media product that strengthens the social fabric of our society, without minimizing individual thought or the power of ingenuity. He has served as a fine arts and popular culture educator for high-risk youth. Additionally, as a multi-cultural artisan, he has successfully utilized my inventive talents and comic book art platforms to inspire and capture the shared imagination of countless persons throughout America.

Lori Murphy & Fiona Murphy

sponsored by chicago tribune

Lori Murphy is an interdisciplinary resident artist of the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago for the past 7 years. She has studied art and technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, sustainable building design at Harvard University and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Vermont. Painter, photographer and designer of energy independent buildings, her work lies at the intersection between the fine arts and human geography. She focuses on the human experience of the world from a sensory phenomenological perspective, engaging with the interaction of the body with the natural and built environment. She is currently funded by a grant to teach studio art to young adults with autism. Recent work has been shown in Boston, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, and Chicago.

Mark Nelson of Gringolandia Studio


sponsored by PACE Suburban Bus

Mark arrived to Chicago in 1984 from the Panama Canal Zone to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied painting and performance and completed a BFA and then MFA at Univ. of Illinois in Chicago. His career in the city was well established as an artist within the Pilsen community as well as an educator. Hisworks are in numerous collections including an 18 x 6 foot canvas mural purchased and installed in the U.S. State Dept. Embassy/ Consulate in the Republic of Panama. He has participated in several Public Art projects including Cows on Parade, Pingpong 2000, and several outdoor events in the city of Chicago and many grants including twice being awarded the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship.

Didier Nolet


sponsored by CBRE/737 North Michigan Avenue

For many years Didier’s paintings and pastels reflected a blending of his childhood memories. This became more and more a transcription of his personal inner feelings, state of mind, and moods.

More recently, he started a new series of paintings which reflect an evolution toward a looser and more energetic way of applying paint. This different painting technique has resulted in crushing waves and surfs that reflect emotional times in his life, or seas of icy calm that suggest a great sense of peace and harmony. This is reminiscent of the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang – the positive and negative ebb and flow of life.

Oakton Community College Art Club

sponsored by Oakton Community College and Alisa & Howard Singer

Erin Conoboy: As a lifelong artist and embracer of All Abilities (who works with her own anxieties), Erin fully believes in bringing visibility to those who are looked past. With a little care and pooled resources, abilities of all can be put to Healing through the process of Art making and Art appreciation.

Kristin Haas: Kristin Haas is the faculty member guiding the group of students working on this project. Kristin creates objects out of recycled latex house paint. Her works communicate the physical, emotional and psychological language of painting, while referencing color, design and objecthood. Kristin received her MFA from The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and has received numerous awards for her work including the Joan Mitchell Foundation 2010 MFA Grant.

Larsa Kena: Larsa Kena faces her artistic challenges on a large scale and plans to endlessly create herself. She was born and continues to live in Chicago, Illinois. Her profession is performing in fine arts as an artist. She is currently studying at Oakton Community College as she plans to proser on to an art school here in Chicago. Her artistic abilities have accumulated through the past 7 years and she considers her 19 ft mural at Urhai Community Center as her biggest accomplishment yet. She longs to convey her artistry to a larger scale and believes to create many more large artworks. Her motive now is to build her concept development and to never stop experimenting through her artwork.

Brenda Mejia: Brenda Mejia studied at The American Academy of Art for 2 years and continue to pursue her illustration major at Oakton Community College. Her artworks were displayed and awarded in various art shows including the Park Ridge Art Leagues Art Show in 2014. Brenda was born in Chicago with her family who were from El Salvador and Guatemala. As a growing artist, she demonstrates her passion of her Latin culture by using vivid colors, symbolic designs, and details in her work. She uses varies media such as acrylic paint, watercolor, pastel, and ink to capture the main traits of her artwork.

Christina Mihalopoulos: Christina Mihalopoulos took a few drawing classes at Oakton and Fundamentals of 2D Design. She really wanted to be part of this project as the subject speaks very much to her since she has friends and family members with disabilities. She wants to reach out to people and communicate to them the importance of inclusion.

Shane Tolentino: Shane Tolentino is an illustrator who creates detailed traditional illustrations with watercolor, pen, and sometimes pressed flowers. Driven by her love for plants and antique medical diagrams, she enjoys exploring elements of nature and the human body through her art in order to show how they conflict but cannot exist without each other. She is a Gold and Silver Key winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, was named Columbia College Chicago's ILLO Awards “Best New Illustrator of 2017,” and has been featured in galleries and juried showcases throughout Chicagoland. When she’s not on campus, one can find her sketching her surroundings, sitting by Lake Michigan, or walking through local forest preserves.

Kristi O'Meara, The Patternbase


sponsored by skyline design

Kristi O’Meara is an illustrator and designer based in Chicago, IL. She is the founder of design studio and blog, The Patternbase. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2009 from Kansas City Art Institute, where she studied painting, design, and fiber arts. Kristi released her first publication, The Pattern Base: Over 550 Contemporary Textile and Surface Designs through Thames & Hudson Publishing in 2015. Her work has been featured in Chicago Magazine, IdN, Cool Hunting, CS Modern Luxury, and Dutch Elle, among others.

The Patternbase is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded and directed by Kristi O”Meara, the studio specializes in pattern creation and curation for fashion, interiors, objects, and special events. Their digital pattern archive, founded in 2011, has developed an audience of 95,000+ followers, and continues to grow daily.

Pooja Pittie


sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois

Pooja Pittie is a visual artist who lives and works in Chicago. Born and raised in India, she studied finance and accounting and moved to the U.S. in 1999. An MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business led her to Chicago and a career in finance and entrepreneurship. In late 2015, she decided to pursue her lifelong passion for art and shifted her focus to painting full-time. Pooja has an incurable and progressive form of muscular dystrophy and uses painting as a way to capture some of the movement she has lost through her disability.

Pooja is currently an artist resident at HATCH Projects at The Chicago Artists Coalition and a participant in Center Program at the Hyde Park Art Center. Her paintings have been exhibited at venues such as Expo Chicago and Art Miami. She is represented by the McCormick Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Diane Rakocy


sponsored by AutoCanada

Diane J. Rakocy is an internationally celebrated American artist whose work has been exhibited and collected all over the world. She has lived and worked in Asia for over ten years and has traveled extensively throughout her life. Her artwork is a reflection of both the places she has been and the spirit of the people she has met along the way.

Diane latest work is based on her interest in "making a difference in the world making art". She paints intuitively using vibrant colors and rich textures in a multitude of layers on the canvas. She likens the journey of a painting to the human experience, first adding layers of paint and texture randomly and then bit-by-bit excavating the painting that wants to emerge. Her contribution to the Lighthouse Project, entitled "The Light Within" exemplifies her art process as well as the way she sees the world. Beauty and our greatest gifts always stem from the light that is already within us.

Her hope is that her work will evoke an appreciation for the inner beauty that surrounds us every day, no matter who or what we appear to be on the outside.

Fernando Ramirez of Project Onward


sponsored by the spagat family

Fernando Ramirez (b. 1977) is from Guanajuato, Mexico and moved at the age of three to Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.

Perhaps the most important and popular artist at Chicago’s celebrated youth arts program, Gallery 37, Ramirez completed numerous commissioned art projects including portraits of Mayor and Mrs. Daley, as well as many visiting dignitaries from around the world. A decade later, he continues to paint colorful scenes of Chicago’s famous locales, enjoys a unique niche in painting three-dimensional objects, and is now a popular commission artist at Project Onward.

Damon Lamar Reed


sponsored by Rabbi Steven & Julie Stark Lowenstein

Damon’s mission is to use the power of art to create positive change. He enjoys creating public art because it allows him to speak to a group of people about issues that we all deal with. He aims to make art that tells a story of hope. Damon personally equates art with beauty. To create beauty, he uses color, contrast, form, tiles, mirrors and any other item needed to get the job done. I like to create a conversation, a conversation between the wall and the viewer or a conversation between individuals. In a sense, he want s each work of art he does to be the beginning, the catalyst for a solution to a problem.

Bernardino Rodriguez & Mario Rodriguez


sponsored by Staff Management SMX

Mario Rodriguez is an artist who has autism. He loves all animals on our planet and because he is Autistic he better understands them more through art and learning, which he spends a lot of time doing at home. He feels that it is important to showcase animals that are losingtheir homes rapidly. His father, Bernadino, has taught him how to paint since he was five years old, and he has used his art as a means to communicate with the rest of his family, friends and the residents of Chicago.

Chris Silva


sponsored by Sensible Innovations

I see art as a way of thinking and acting in the world rather than merely a stylistic or material practice. I am concerned with how people relate to the self, to each other and to their environment and aim to give artistic presence to my humanity and concern, or simply to present a joyous and generous alternative to the divisive and hateful forces at work in our world. I believe audio/visual beauty sets a tone which helps to facilitate more harmonious social interactions in its presence. I seek to make work which is engaging to children, speaks to the inner children of adults, and has a healthy dose of unpretentious complexity. I appreciate eye candy, but work to include a serving of soul food in my offerings. I’m interested in visual work which is felt intuitively, in much the same way music is experienced.

I seek beauty, resonance, and harmony through interesting combinations of, color, texture, lighting, sound, and partnership with collaborators. My frequent practice of collaboration seeks to pursue a less self-centric approach to art making – one which embraces the challenge of sacrificing individual control, or credit, for the greater good of the projects, and in the service of a larger community. I am more interested in seeing what we can do than merely showing what I can do. While philosophically framed by these intentions, I encourage my work to reveal its own logic, speak its own language, and remain open, since that is how I find the most resonant beauty and poetry emerges.

Kaitlin Stober

sponsored by Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Engagement within the arts and disability community is both a personal and professional interest of Kaitlin’s. She graduated with a BA in art in2015 (concentration in painting) and received a MS in Disability Studies from Trinity College Dublin upon completion of her thesis, ‘Art and Affirmation of an Intellectually Disabled Artists: A Qualitative Exploration of the experiences of Irish Artists with Intellectual Disabilities’ in November of 2017. Since then, she has been working with the Institute on Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago as a research specialist in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities and community integration. Kaitlin believes that the arts are an unparalleled form of communication when it comes to social movements.

Peter J. Bucks


sponsored by United Service Companies

Peter Johannes Bucks was born in the city of Chicago. He grew up in the neighborhood of Albany Park located on the city's North Side. While growing up, Peter was taught the fundamentals of perspective and proportions by his father, who is also an artist. In the fall of 1990 Peter Bucks was accepted at Ray College of Design and studied to become a professional artist under the supervision and teachings of Atelier trained and master painter Bruno Surdo. In the Spring of 1994 Peter graduated and began a professional freelance career illustrating for various companies and agencies in the Chicagoland area. In 1996 Peter achieved a full time position at Skyline Design where he learned the principles of building stained glass windows, sandblasting glass, faux finishing, and painting large scale murals. Many of Peter's commercial works from Skyline Design are scattered throughout the United States and Europe. Currently Peter is living in Chicago and has been working on private commissions, Fine Art, Public Art projects and on various freelance illustrations. Peter also makes a considerable amount of contributions and charitable donations with his art in the Chicagoland area. Peter is an associate member of Oil Painters of America.

Matthew Kopp - Tellin' Tales Theatre & Louis DeMarco - Project Onward


sponsored by target

The mission of Tellin’ Tales Theatre is to shatter the barriers between the disabled and non-disabled worlds through the transformative power of personal story. They bring together children and adults from both communities to share their stories in theatrically innovative productions and programs to promote awareness, understanding and acceptance. Their medium is theatre and they have been illuminating the stories of people of all abilities, races and income levels for twenty-two years. Co-founded by Tekki Lomnicki, a person with a disability, the company strives to shine light on the personal stories of people with disabilities that the general public doesn’t often see. What makes them different is that they insist on an equal playing field for all actors and designers. They bring their message of inclusion to the general public, in an effort to let people know that we are more alike than different.

Christopher M. Trejo

in partnership with illinois department of financial and professional regulations

Christopher’s mission is to convey a message of freedom, equality,opportunity and service. He is a largely a self-taught Chicago artist who works in various styles, materials, and textures and has shown at various local galleries. Chris is a lover of public art, first, and believes in its power to reach and connect with all ages. He also knows from experience, as he has been helped when in need by both family and strangers, that we all need a hand from time to time. Chris believes,"it is our greatest duty and privilege to give of ourselves when we can. There is no better or gratifying feeling in life." 

Erika Vazzana


sponsored by Wendella Sightseeing

Erika’s mission is to create works of art that benefits or touch the lives of others in some way, shape or form. Among some of her many works, sick patients at Lurie Hospital today can continue to see her painting as they await treatment, therapy or even a life-threatening surgery. In other work she has included all ages of people to collaborate with my professional eye and guidance. Some never picking up a brush in a lifetime, that being an 83 year old she had work along with her. If the work is on either side of the brush, Erika enjoys and takes gratification knowing and understanding the process of both sides. This to her is as important as the final work for what a person sees, but also the story behind it!

Vivian Visser

sponsored by PPF/MB N. Michigan Avenue

Vivian has been creating sculptural works exploring our spiritual relationship with nature since the early ‘90’s. With works in national shows (Sculpted Green in Bellevue Washington and Fertile Ground - Honoring Nature in Art at Imlay Fine Arts in Montclair, NJ), local exhibits (Chicago’s Twelve-12 Artists Mobilizing for the Earth, Zhou B Art Center and Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, IL. and Feminist Ecology - Women and the Earth, at the Koehnline Museum of Art) and international exhibits (Cool Globes - Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet, Cooler Planet, which was at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen), she has attempted to share her ideas about our need to create a better relationship with nature as a way to find peace within ourselves and each other.