Thursday, December 6, 2012

Onward and Awesome

It was an article about the striking style of the Chicago home of Jeffrey Moss in October 2012's Martha Stewart Living, that led me to Project Onward. The article, intended to inspire thoughtful ways to live in our collections , had an image of a non-pretentious wall of portraits that caught my eye.

The collection of "glittery portraits of family and friends that he commissioned from Sereno Wilson of Project Onward (an organization of artists with disabilities)" the caption told me. And I immediately went to Google.

Project Onward is a Chicago-based studio dedicated to the growth of artists with mental and developmental disabilities. Upon reading more, what intrigued me most was their Portrait Project, which brought people together, raised awareness and allowed the artists to interact within a live portrait setting.

Since I was heading to Chicago for the Arlington Height's Santa Run, we put this on the to do list.
So last Friday, we visited the Project Onward facility at the Chicago Cultural Center, right at the corner of Washington and Michigan in the old Library building (across from the Bean). My artist was self-taught illustrator Andrew Hall, who's meticulous architectural and train-yard drawings blew me away.

As he worked, all around us, artists of varying medians busied themselves in the creative process—working with glitter, charcoal, foamcore and markers. It was a beautiful sight, and both moving and inspiring to witness.
And, in about 20 miuntes, for about 20 dollars, I had a portrait of my own. My first ever professionally drawn portrait.

So, if you're headed to Chicago, I highly encourage you to stop by. Portrait Project is open Monday – Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. You can make an appointment ahead of time, or, do like we did, and walk in and be introduced to the artists on-site and available. If you have questions you can inquire at Find out more on Facebook. 

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