Today we’d like to introduce you to Antonia Ruppert.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Antonia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up in Chicago’s Humboldt Park area, I used to draw on pantyhose paper inserts my mother gave me. One day, when I accompanied my dad to the dentist, the dental assistant gave me a stack of pink paper. It felt like gold.
At Lane Tech High School, art teachers Mr. Grace and Mr. Rotta – encouraged my entrance into city-wide competitions. Working with them and others led me to exhibit in the junior artist division of festivals like the Palmer Square Art Festival. One day, Dr. Burroughs, (one of the founders of Chicago’s DuSable Museum) came to my display and encouraged me. That summer, I received a check from Dr. Burroughs toward my art supplies for the upcoming college semester.
At Loyola University Chicago, Professor Ralph Arnold (deceased) was my mentor. I recall him patiently showing me how to design and build things.
After college at Loyola, I worked for multiple companies – continuing to master my craft and sell my work to family and friends. In 2008, after working as a Project Management Office administrative assistant and secretary, I decided to start painting, exhibiting and doing public art projects exclusively. There was no parachute, just a love for my craft and the ability to build relationships.
I am grateful to my husband and my family who supported me in that decision.
My first large client was a local library, the Markham Public Library. I am so grateful for that opportunity and the other artisans on my creative team. Together, we created five paintings, a welcome painted bench and a 14ft x 7ft digital mural.
Since that time, I have had ever-increasing opportunities to create in my community.
For the last two years, I have shared my Community Art with libraries, park districts, churches, and other organizations throughout Chicagoland. Working with entities such as the Chicago Public Library, Forest Park Park District, Elmwood Park Public Library, Acorn Public Library, New Life Community Church, Grand Prairie Services and the Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Morgan Park has allowed me to connect and collaborate with many people.
I’m in the middle of one of my best years. From working on pantyhose paper long ago to now creating original art and community art on canvas for various entities, my art and my story continue to inspire. I’m looking forward to what is next.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As I look back, there have been struggles along the way that I have overcome.
In college, my life altered sophomore year when I became pregnant and gave birth to my daughter, Kayla. I was headed to Italy to paint that year. I put Italy on hold and maneuvered through taking care of her, painting and school.
As a new mom, I suffered from post-partum depression and eventually was given a mental health diagnosis. I have experienced domestic violence. Over the years, I have struggled. All I know is I have to persevere, be more tenacious and try harder.
These days, my recovery looks like this: I get to live my life, enjoy my family and enjoy my work in a supportive community. Despite obstacles, I am even more determined to finish what I’ve started and continue creating.
I have learned that being a professional artist and having additional obstacles takes perseverance and tenacity.
I remain inspired.
In 2017, my 20+ year dream come true. I successfully traveled to paint in Italy for an arts residency at JSS in Civita Summer Art School and Residency.
This year, I have exhibited in a number of regional shows and have produced a number of community projects which I am proud of. Despite becoming a parent early, overcoming a mental health diagnosis, and domestic violence, I am yet creating and that is a success to me.
Please tell us about Antonia Ruppert Fine Art.
I started my company, Antonia Ruppert Fine Art, in response to a desire to express and share beauty. I started in 2008 with an idea. My first client was a library whose theme was literacy in the family. With a team of artisans, we created five paintings, a welcome bench and a mural.
Today, I create community art where I bring people together to paint one piece. In a digital world of contact via a screen, the point is in person connection and dialogue. I’ve worked with libraries, park districts, churches, and social service agencies. More info can be found at toniruppert.com/.
I also create original art which consists of figurative and landscapes which share a story about overcoming, optimism and beauty. In my color palette — harmony is of utmost importance. In my artistic practice, I love meeting people. Connecting with artists, collectors, supporters, and inspiring people is a byproduct of my work.
Only God knows what is next for me, but I’m excited about sharing my work at the Chicago Public Library – North Austin Branch for Women’s History Month 2019. I am also excited about collaborating on a project in the works for Illinois Arts and Humanities Month.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I have so many wonderful childhood memories. One that comes to mind happened at church. As a child, my family and I attended Bethlehem Healing Temple – a large church on Chicago’s west side. I have sung in the children’s choir and played the tambourine. One evening after service, one of the elders asked me what my name was. I had to be about six or so. I proudly told him my full name – Antonia Celeste James – for which he promptly gave me a dollar. It was like he was letting me know that I should never forget who I am. I have never forgotten that lesson.
- $475 to $2000 depending upon the size and complexity.
- One of my favorite sizes is 24″ x 30″ that sells for $1,000.
- Website: https://toniruppert.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @antoniaruppertart
- Facebook: @antoniaruppertart
Antonia Ruppert, Maddie Lewner, Imani Ruppert, Mike Ruppert