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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.

Justin Casselle

Working with a large group of people from the actors, to the producers, and the stagehands, really brought about a sense of teamwork that I hadn’t felt since little league (I was pretty good, mind you). Suddenly, in my life, there was an opportunity that I never experienced before: Read more>>

Sehreen Shahzad

I was interested in animation and production and luckily found myself employed at a very prestigious production house in Karachi. We were entrusted with the challenge of making Pakistan’s first 3d animated feature film for young adults under the direction of a Pakistani Emmy Award Winning director. Read more>>

Georgia Schwender

I am an artist and a curator, seeped in science. In the 1990’s, I was employed by Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY as a photographic specialist, mostly darkroom work, supporting science. My technical skills developed here, as well as my interest in science. Read more>>

Deepayan Bose

I’ve been interested in visual mediums as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother telling my stories from Indian mythology about monsters and heroes. Since then, I would have images of other worlds in my head which pushed me to get those stories out visually. Read more>>

Pierre Lucero

I still create and work as hard as ever. I’m also co-founder of art collective Abnormal Perspective. I am always eager to learn more and will always remain a student to the arts. My main goal aside from inspiring others is to travel the world and paint murals as well as exhibit in museums/galleries. Read more>>

Laura Meyer

While I still LOVE weddings, I am happy to be doing more work during the weekdays and enjoy the variety of photography that I am pursuing. In the end, I am helping people showcase their family memories or business. Read more>>

Min Baek

Drawing and painting were something natural to me as far back as I can remember. Looking back, I am actually surprised at how determined I was as a kid to become a painter one day, even without knowing what it really meant to be one. Read more>>

Nathanael Filbert

I think this truth was one of the greatest motivators pushing me towards the arts. I wanted to medium to explore and reveal to people their own boxes and the powerful ways that their surroundings shape their choices and perspectives. Read more>>

Julie Mettler

I took my first photography class in the film days. When my youngest started school, I went back to college to learn the digital side. I knew from the beginning I wanted to be affiliated with a professional organization, so I joined the Professional Photographers of America and became a Certified Professional Photographer in 2010. Read more>>

Brianne Chaney

I follow my dreams and a sweet older brother who I’ve gotten to watch follow his. I have recently graduated from William Jessup University with my degree in Visual and Fine Arts. Since then, I have been privileged to work as an artist and muralist. Read more>>

Marcus Coleman

I started making comics and selling them in class for 25 cents and well, we’ve been drawing comics and illustrating ever since. Learning to read the way I did really shape my imagination and since then, I’ve wanted nothing more to create as much stuff possible. Read more>>

Daniel Weisberg

NDPNDNT, spelled without the vowels, is a 23 year old, biracial African American hip hop artist, actor, and social activist from Chicago, Illinois. He recently graduated Columbia College Chicago, in May 2018 with a bachelor’s in Business & Entrepreneurship. Read more>>

Beverly Gibson

I went into the recording studio to record and help produce our debut album and it was during that time that I was attracted to the recording process as a means to take music further. I soon set up my own personal studio and am grateful for where it has taken me ever since. Read more>>

Christopher Young

I left from the apartment I shared with family and stayed at a studio for a short period of time when I was twenty-four before I decided to take my musical talents seriously. Throughout all my situations music have been a MAJOR LIFE LINE AND THERAPY to my soul. Read more>>

Sara Faraj

Hardly believing in myself and my vision, I found myself lost in the big city of Chicago at the ripe age of 20. I was fortunate to know and learn from two talented artists that showed me the ropes, gave me a platform, and believed in my capabilities – Read more>>

Nancy Fong

I took on a couple jobs as an artist. I had a sign-making job, worked at a ceramic repair shop, and at an art gallery. I was always striving to create. I am a full-time artist now: I teach art, I paint and I monitor a weekly figure painting group. Read more>>

Mequitta Ahuja

As I grew older and developed a greater sense of self-acceptance, I became less concerned with issues of identity and belonging. Since the form of my work is self-portraiture, I had to come up with a new approach. Now, I take on the genre of self-portraiture. Read more>>

Jamie Tubbs

It hasn’t been long since I started to feel comfortable and confident calling myself an artist or feeling like I understood what that even means. It fits me a lot better than what I was pursuing before and I’m excited about what will unfold in the long term. Read more>>

Sharon Bladholm

My studio is like several laboratories with different areas to explore different directions including fine art, such as sculptural works in ceramic, bronze and glass. I have kilns that dually fire ceramic and cast glass and also create drawings and other works on paper. There is also an area with large tables to create stained glass windows and lighting fixtures. Read more>>

Malik Willis – Liiko

I’ve never really been able to accurately verbalize the intricacies of my thoughts and emotions. Once I found visual art as an outlet to be able to fully express myself, there was no turning back. I make what’s in my mind and soul at the moment, in hopes to connect with other energies through my work. Read more>>

Jennifer McNulty

I worked with acclaimed photographer Liz Chilsen as her project manager. This relationship deepened my knowledge of photography and has enhanced the artist that I am today. I now divide much of my time between my family and working in my art studio. Read more>>

David P. Hettinger

Three years in New York was followed by a year in Taos, New Mexico where 10,000 hips had moved to. The locals’ lifestyle did not take to the flower children with their free love and public nudity. A number of flower children were shot during that period. Carrying a gun wasn’t for me so I moved back to Illinois. Read more>>


Writing soon became my coping mechanism but I stopped singing and writing for a long time when my father ripped up and burned a lot of my lyric sheets. Eventually, that relationship ended and we moved away my senior year of high school to Mississippi where I learned the blues. Read more>>

Delphine Pontvieux

Besides making jewelry and being a published author, I am also a performing actor: I have appeared in movies such as “LOL-Laughing Out Loud” with Demi Moore, “Sinister 2” and various TV series such as “Empire.” Read more>>

Jim Vondruska

I began to craft a unique style of shooting and found joy in showing life at its most intimate and unadulterated form through photography. I have since found love and a passion in telling stories whether they come from conflict zones, events, or simply a brief glimpse into a subject’s daily life. Read more>>

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