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Thought-Provokers: West Side

Chicago has always had an artistic soul. The culture and heritage of our city, like most great cities, owes a tremendous debt to the arts community. Supporting local art is something we care deeply about and we’d like to do everything we can to help the local arts community thrive. Unfortunately, too often media attention is monopolized by corporate interests and tabloid gossip – but culture doesn’t come from a focus on celebrity breakups it comes from a focus on the arts.

Below, you’ll find some incredible artists from in and around the West Side that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Kamilah Jones

I started hard Decora in 2014 after being inspired by a single photo on Tumblr of a fashionable Japanese girl carrying a pastel gun. And I thought “what if there was a Harajuku fashion girl gang that could stand up for the misfits just by being themselves?” from there I started drawing all these characters and creating this story. Read more>>

Kioto Aoki

My films and photographs were musical, rhythmic and physical and the way I play taiko reflects the quiet narrative trajectory as my images. And all aspects of my practice embodies the refined sensibilities of Japanese aesthetics. I’m still navigating what it means to be an artist. Read more>>

Nancy Gardner

My work is about the look and feel of the hand. It is about the tradition of making things for everyday use. It is about the beauty of color and pattern, and how beautiful hand made objects can enrich life. Even when they are not functional, my pots refer to functional pottery. Read more>>

Elizabeth Gerlach

Over the course of a few years, he would require many therapies, surgeries, doctors visits, and special care. After a two year battle with various respiratory illnesses, Benjamin passed away at Lurie Children’s Hospital in May 2016. In April 2017, we established the Ben Smiles Memorial Foundation – with the mission of purchasing switch-adapted toys and small devices to kids with motor challenges/diagnoses. Read more>>

Wen Liu

After graduating, it took me a while to find my feet and get my own studio. Since then, I had my first solo exhibition and sold my first piece in the US. I want to use this momentum and the opportunities I’m receiving to expand my practice, continue experimenting and developing as an artist, and take my career to the next level as an international immigrant female artist with roots in Chicago. Read more>>

Linas Jodwalis

As cliche as it may sound, I went to the movies in the spring of 1999 to see this strange movie no one was talking about, called the Matrix, and that was the day my life made sense. That’s the day I decided I needed to figure out how to do whatever it was I just witnessed. Read more>>

Julia Polay

I am a product of my environment, the resources I have been exposed to make me who I am. Sometimes, I’ve described myself as a collector of treasures and stories. I am a hoarder of ideas, images, and techniques. The work I create is a consequence of obsessive interests – the work is a by-product of what I absorb. Read more>>

Erica Iman

I’m an explorer, through my work, travel, and everyday experiences. I was the child that found a hideaway in the woods that felt like home as I dug out the dirt around the tree roots and arranged sticks to make a table, sitting there alone most of the time, daydreaming, and feeling safe by that. Read more>>

Anna Freerksen

I’ve always been an artist. I’ve always made drawings and paintings and as I moved through school I discovered sculpture, ceramics, and jewelry making. It never really felt like a choice I made to become an artist, it was just the way I experienced the world and what I was drawn to do. Read more>>

Zack Kravits

I started without realizing it was art. I was a personal trainer in the fitness industry and watched YouTube on a daily basis. I wanted to become a fitness YouTuber. After making several really bad videos, I became frustrated with the quality and pretending to be someone that I wasn’t. Instead, I became obsessed with making my next video better than the last and became more passionate about filmmaking than fitness. Read more>>

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