Tag Archives: Chicago

The Artists of Project Onward

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These artworks from Project Onward do a great job of lifting my spirits. I hope that you feel the same. We all need a break from the doom and gloom.

Project Onward is a studio and gallery located in Chicago that supports the work of artists with disabilities. Project Onward started in 2004 and currently has over 60 artists participating in the program.

I had the opportunity to volunteer there when I lived in Chicago. It will always be one of my favorite arts organizations. The artists are truly amazing people who have overcome many challenges, and their art is a way of healing and building their self-esteem while gaining well-deserved recognition for their talents. Their creativity is endless.

The artwork made by Project Onward artists ranges from spectacular glitter masterpieces to intricately detailed drawings. Some of the artists specialize in portraits, including amazing pet portraits. (I admit that I have a growing collection of pet portraits that I will cherish forever.) Artwork can be purchased through the online shop. Half of the proceeds go directly to the artists.

We exist to give artists with disabilities a “visual voice” to tell their stories and change the perceptions of the world. Project Onward is a studio and gallery dedicated to the creative growth of adult artists whose lives are impacted by mental illness and developmental disabilities. Our non-profit studio is inclusive and we embrace artists with a wide range of life experiences. Some are self-taught artists who have Autism, while some are formally-trained artists who have bipolar disorder. There are other artists with challenges that are equally complex. However, all of them willingly explore the innermost recesses of their minds to create powerful works of art. 

via Project Onward website

Artwork credit from top to bottom:
“Eden of the South Shore” by Blake Lenoir
“Butterfly” by Safiya Hameed
“Cat Family Picnic” by Ruby Bradford
Fantasy scene by Jacqueline Cousins

Please note that all images are copyright © of the individual artists and used on this blog for educational purposes. Selling, printing, or repurposing artwork without an artist’s permission is not nice.

Bottle Cap Art

 

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Mary Ellen Croteau, Tsunami,©2014, 5’X8′

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Mary Ellen Croteau, Jia, Uppsala ©2015, 29″x39″ framed

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Mary Ellen Croteau, Endless Columns, detail, ©2010 – 2015


Continuing with the theme of recycled and found object art from previous posts, this week’s featured artist is Mary Ellen Croteau of Chicago. She creates art with bottle caps to help bring awareness to the impact of waste on the environment.

Regarding her piece Tsunami (above), Mary Ellen states on her website:

“Tsunami is made mostly of water bottle caps. I personally think that single-serve plastic bottles are a major curse on our environment, and most especially water bottles. Most of us do not need to have bottled water at hand. Getting people used to spending more money for water than they spend for a gallon of gasoline is devious and disastrous for the future of the planet; letting corporations control our water sources is evil.”

I first came across her work in 2012 at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Her Endless Columns, inspired by the sculptures of Constantin Brancusi, were vibrant towers amongst the greens of the plants and flowers. My 4-year old was very impressed, and from this, we discovered our love of collaborative art making with bottle caps. We will be posting some ideas for bottle cap art projects for kids soon!

To view more of Mary Ellen’s work, please visit her website at maryellencroteau.net.

Toothpick Artists

Weaver 1 Toothpick ArtistsWeaver 4 Toothpick ArtistsWeaver 2 Toothpick ArtistsScott Weaver is a San Francisco-based artist who creates elaborately detailed artwork using only toothpicks and Elmer’s glue. Scott began creating toothpick art in 1968, at the age of 8. His most famous toothpick sculpture is called Rolling Through the Bay, a kinetic sculpture which was constructed using approximately 100,000 toothpicks over the course of 37 years. Scott estimates that it took over 3,000 hours of his time to create the sculpture. The sculpture is 9 feet tall and 7 feet wide.

Wayne Kusy of Chicago is another incredible toothpick artist. I had the honor of meeting him several years ago and helping him with a toothpick art workshop at a Chicago gallery.

Wayne was inspired to start building with toothpicks in fifth grade after completing a school project using his chosen medium. Wayne started small and eventually worked his way up to building toothpick versions of ocean liner models, ranging in length from 4 feet to 25 feet. His largest toothpick sculpture is the 25 foot Queen Mary, which was made using 814,000 toothpicks and 19 gallons of Titebond II.

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Image/Video Credits:
Scott Weaver, Rolling Through the Bay via Tinkering Studio ©
Scott Weaver’s Rolling through the Bay from The Tinkering Studio on Vimeo
Wayne Kusy, Work in progress, via Intuit the Center for Intuitive & Outsider Art
Wayne Kusy, Cutty Sark via Detour Art.