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Meet the 2023 Cohort

Learn about the fellowship projects of the 2023 On-Ramp Cohort.

Man holding guitar

Adam deWeber (Monroe County)

I write, arrange, and perform music.

In my career/day job, I program the services and lead the singing at my church, Christ Community Church, where I work to incorporate old and new, ancient and modern, and liturgical and experiential elements and songs into our worship services. Put more simply, I try to find elements that will help everyone in our diverse congregation connect to the service, while incorporating them in a manner that allows the service itself to feel natural and inclusive. The bulk of my creative energy in this application is devoted to weaving pre-existing elements (scripture, songs, readings, etc) into a cohesive presentation and leading volunteers (musicians and tech team) to produce that presentation.

Up to this point, my main creative work has been my hobby of writing and performing original music. I write about things that happen to me or people I know. I write as a way of processing feelings that I’m not always sure how to feel. I write with the hope of allowing other people to feel seen when they hear a song that describes how they feel as well. I used to write a lot back in college, and then I took a long hiatus (because of busyness or perhaps just because of the natural circadian rhythm of an artist’s process). But about 14 months ago, I began writing again, with purpose and intent, and I have been writing at a significant pace, creating songs that I think have a lot of potential to connect with folks. I do not see myself ever becoming a singing star, but I would like to write songs that those folks record and perform, and still be able to live my life here in Bloomington, focused on family, community, and church.
Person wearing hat outdoors

AJ Veach (Tippecanoe County)
Media Arts

Happy Death is my podcast about living well until the end of life — using curiosity to explore the big questions, find meaning, and learn from people who have died before us. Each episode is a reminder that even the dying are still alive. My storytelling process has its roots in journalism, where I spent more than ten years working for international and local news organizations including The Wall Street Journal and The Herald-Times in Bloomington.

The art of storytelling first presented itself in me when I was a child. I made audio recordings during family road trips, mainly noting the activities of my four brothers. Following my diagnosis with late-stage cancer, I felt a lot of fear and uncertainty. Over time, I learned to turn that fear into questions and then use my training to research the answers. As I answered my own end-of-life questions, I felt a deep sense of peace and connection with other people. That led me to creating Happy Death, to hopefully help others find the answers they need, too.

Black and white photo of a woman

Alicia Sims (Marion County)

As a self-published author, I enjoy liberties of using my vulnerabilities to connect with other mediums of art and relative members of the community.  "Resilient Faith" discusses  the traumas of my life and spiritual guidance that inspired my self-discovery and artistic namesake, The UnCuT Diamond.  This autobiographical narrative explores how I stopped silencing my voice, recognizes how I used my roles to define my identity and why I stunted my influence in the first place.  I talk about how I constantly found myself seeking approval from people and thought I was unlovable and unworthy of love.  The book includes reflection questions that were pivotal in my transformation to encourage the reader to engage in advanced self-discovery!

After my book launch, I started using my memoir to facilitate small group discussions about domestic violence, social injustice, childhood trauma, building healthy relationships and finding inner strength to overcome obstacles.  In 2021, I transformed principles identified from these gatherings into an apparel movement called GRID WAIR.  The letters in the name stand for Grace, Resilience, Identity, Discipline, Wisdom, Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility.  The tagline of the apparel movement is "We Wear It"! This inspiration has ignited a passion in me for continuing this ambitious journey of connecting like-minded people to a space that celebrates vulnerability, positive character choices  and personal wholeness!

Woman holding stringed instrument

Amy Kniffen (Marion County)

I use live music to teach lessons regarding music, history, literature and social issues. I believe that storytelling is a very effective way to educate.
Woman near stringed instruments

Audrey Williams (Monroe County)

My main creative work is teaching music. I teach violin, cello, and upright bass in Bloomington. I moved here eleven years ago and started teaching after graduating from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. I received my Bachelor's Degree in Double Bass Performance and Music Education, Instrumental. My musical journey began when I was 8 years old though. It all started with a dare from my best friend Cynthia. Musicians came to our elementary school to demonstrate the string instruments and Cynthia thought it would be funny if I signed up to play the upright bass. I took that bet and ran with it! Growing up I played in several orchestras, including a festival that took me all the way to Puerto Rico for a handful of beautiful summers. I went to music school and then came to Bloomington immediately after to take private lessons from a professor at the Jacobs School of Music. But when I arrived I was offered a job teaching beginner strings at Childs Elementary and I fell in love with teaching. I never imagined how much fun it would be to start a group of kids on instruments and watch them progress through a school year. From not knowing how to hold the instrument to putting on a concert for their friends and family. From that experience it became very clear teaching was going to be my chosen career.
Photo of person holding up pottery

Brandon Schwartz  (Elkhart County)

I focus most of my creative efforts on functional ceramics. I create a lot of drinking vessels but also make vases, large serving dishes, plates, bowls and ornaments.

One direction that I am excited to pursue is creating cups and mugs with an old world map theme. I love the idea of continuous design going around the surface of a pot similar to the way the seven continents stretch around the surface of our planet without a beginning or end. I am also intrigued by old things so I have been experimenting with different glazes and adding ceramic decals in a way to get the surface of the pots to resemble very old world maps.

When not applying decals to my pots I combine different glazes and textures to create interesting surfaces. My favorite surfaces come from glazes that move and change as they are fired to create drippy effects and unique color combinations.

After achieving a surface with enough depth I like to capture macro or “close up” photographs of the most interesting details.
Photo of woman in front of yellow backdrop

Brianna Hairlson (Lake County)

I am submitting to continue my work as an author. My first book entitled Dance Through the Storms: 22 Faith-Filled Reflections to Maintain Your Joy provides inspiration and guidance to readers who may feel like there is no hope during or after the storm. I also want my readers to hold fast to the promises of God and believe that on the other side of the storm, there is a beautiful testimony. In this project I would like to further my work in exploring how grief plays a part in life. Dance Through the Storms Part 2: Growing Through Grief will examine how the loss of my mom impacted my family, my business, and me,  and will explore themes of anger, fear. love, forgiveness, and loss chronicling from her death in December 2019 to present day 2023. The goal of this work is to inspire others that there is light in the darkest moments.
Photo of woman holding a dog outdoors

Bridget O'Brien (Allen County)
Visual Arts

My main creative work, a series of oil paintings and sculptural reliefs, examine the connection between technological advancements benefiting my life and practice, and the environmental destruction these advancements are known to cause-- particularly, as a female identifying artist. I weave figuration and abstraction through an intensely bright color pallet in an effort to achieve a sense of incongruity reflecting this dissonance. The female form is a visual artifact rife with paradox: the human body, a vessel of remarkable regeneration and healing, yet, innately aware of environmental destruction through over-exploitation of resources.

Ultimately, I am forming a field of inquiry in my work. How does one reckon with the capacity to create and nourish life, while benefiting from the environmentally exploitative conveniences modernity endows us? Is proliferating my planet with my children nurturing the earth? How do I consider my desire to be a mother, when I think about my consumption as an individual?

Photo of woman in front of gray background

Cindy Perez (Fayette County)

My creative work is in the performing arts and as an assemblage artist.

I work with 2 theater companies in the area, Richmond Civic Theater in Richmond and Imagine Performing Arts in Connersville. A trained designer for theater, I have an MFA from NYU/ Tisch School of the Arts and worked in NYC for several years. With each of these companies I have designed sets and lights and directed. I am currently directing "Hello Dolly" for RCT. It will open April 2023.
As an assemblage artist I just closed two holiday shows where I sold my work. I had space in a downtown pop-up store for artisans in Connersville and at the Whitewater Valley Arts Association. I sold assemblage , jewelry, cards, paintings and other works.

My work, both in the theater and as assemblage artist, is consistent in that I tell stories that evoke emotion from the audience. Artwork that has something to say and makes an impact is what I strive to produce. I find that the two disciplines feed each other with shared skills and techniques, also with analyzing and parsing stories and choosing how best to represent their meaning and point of view.
Photo of a person in front of black backdrop

Clockwork Janz (Marion County)

My main creative work is music composition, much of which is tonal and rhythmically driven.  I am trained formally in western-notated composition, writing as well regularly to create systems of loosely structured improvisation.  My main instrument for live performance is the oboe, but I am an adept keyboardist, percussionist, vocalist, and bass player as well.  Improvising freely, playing chord changes, following someone else’s lead and comping, and incorporating any amount of theatrics are also performance skills I practice.

Most of my music is about food. I have organized several multi-course dinners with original music for each course over the past year and a half, I called these "Sound Suppers".   These have been a lot of fun, and reception has been very enthusiastic.   I was the chef for most of these, working alongside a musical colleague to co-create the soundtrack.  I have found more success and personal fulfillment in curating community-sourced cookbooks, and I compose a soundtrack for each of the recipes.  So when folks prepare and eat the dish, they have music to go with their meal.  Doing this, engaging in my work aligns all 5 senses in the same immersive experience.

Collage of a photo of a woman and abstract figurative paintings

Dana Powell-Smith (Marion County)
Visual Arts

My work on Canvas is mainly abstract with little abstract figurative. I like to tell the story by using colors and shapes. When I first came back to painting I did strictly abstract movement. But I yearned to tell a story that not only I, but others could resonate with. I wanted to paint something simple yet complex. I wanted to represent our people in a simple way with deep meaning. That is when I created my Triangle People.

I created a collection of art using an abstract background with triangle people in the foreground. The backgrounds emit feelings and emotions from the viewer. I have gotten so much Love and interest in this collection.

I get my inspiration from People, figures and colors. Sometimes I will see a person sitting a certain way and will snap a photo. I can then take that photo and create a triangle person piece with the same feeling.
Photo of a woman in a black shirt

Denise Rolland Troyer (Boone County)
Visual Arts

For my work as a ceramic artist, I get much of my inspiration from nature in general, but more specifically from fungus, lichen and various persistent growths.  A large part of my work originates with walks in nature searching out snippets of these growths or signs of regeneration.  The world at and beneath our feet is teeming with beneficial energy, communications and we are intermittently graced with its presence above ground.  This small world is what I like to focus on within my work.   I morph these inspirations into futuristic forms through manipulation of the clay, by using glossy glaze finishes and by selecting colors and scale that stand out in installation surroundings.  My sculptural work incorporates familiar, yet odd growth forms that imply futurity, a continued existence.

I enjoy creating work that consists of multiple components that present as a larger piece in their final composition.  Recently, that meant several hundred ceramic pieces, that emphasized repetition but highlighted each element as subtly unique, as they are made by hand. My goal is to create pieces that invite viewers from far away to come in to see details up close.  I encourage people to interact with the work. The clay and glazes I make are very durable and are made to withstand outdoor elements.

My work stems from creating a personal connection to things that are living around me or that I have experienced through travel.  My hope is that my artwork inspires others to explore similar connections to the environments that surround them. There is so much that we don’t fully understand about the living things around us, and how they are interconnected to each other as well as to us. Those connections are what overshadow my thoughts, my creative process and my art.

Photo of a man in a white hat

Derek Tuder (Marion County)
Visual Arts

I am a visual artist. My main creative work is working with mixed medium 2D & 3D artwork. I love trying to use recyclable materials to create most artwork to help our planet. Turning someone’s trash into a work of art.  This interest actually led me to start to use a whole new medium that I hadn’t considered in the past, metal.  I saw that my employer would throw away sheet of metal, steel, aluminum etc.  Occasionally I was in charge of discarding these materials and each time I would think to myself “There’s got to be a use for this stuff instead of just throwing them away”. One day I just decided to practice on one of the pieces and I haven’t looked back since.
Photo of a woman in front of an orange background

Diane Grams (La Porte County)
Visual Artist

The imagery in my paintings has long reflected my identity and social concerns. I build up surfaces with paint and often source images from illustrated books. I transformed one such image of boys enjoying backyard antics into girls doing forward rolls and backward rolls. The image of somersaulting girl has become a symbol of my sense of play and freedom in art and a logo for my studio “Somersault Studio – Flipping Out Over Art.”

Heliogen, Ercolano Red and Chromium green are three dominant colors in my paintings. Heliogen is a copper-based color that has a red sheen when seen on an angle. It taps a specific part of my brain. It transports me to water, something that is seemingly ever-present in my consciousness. I purchased a kilo of Heliogen dry pigment from Kremer Pigments in NYC for fresco sgraffito then began using it in oil and egg tempera. I love making paint from dry pigment as I can us it across media --with linseed oil, egg yolk and fresco-- and its richness never wanes. Most manufactured paints have additives which change the colors across brands. Ercolano Red and Chromium Green were used in the Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii made in 79 bc and in my frescos painted in 2021 at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Ercolano Red is a version of Indian red imported from Italy’s Herculaneum.
The Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii has mystified me my entire life; I was under the impression that the brilliance of its color was the result the heat of the volcanic ash. The Italian trained experts I met at Skowhegan assured me it was not so. It was the layering technique, which they taught me, that led to the color brilliance. For my images, I then recreated the Villa’s faux marble and bevel, and but transformed the ritual to feature the playful girl rolling backwards.
Black and white photo of a man in a hat

Don Swartzentruber (Kosciusko County)
Design Arts

My primary creative work is the writing and illustration of a graphic novel. The project is called Boardwalk and is a collection of 47 connecting short stories.  It pulls from biographical inspirations. One side of the narrative is my assimilation from old order Amish-Mennonite into the general populous. Biographical details are subservient to the plot and theme of the project. Thus, my Mennonite childhood in Delaware is fictionalized into life with the ultra-conservative fictional group; the Membership. The farmhouse becomes an abandoned lighthouse along the shore. The sudden death of my 20-year-old fiancé is told as the demise of aunt Willow, tragically killed by a buffalo. But sometimes things stay historically accurate; my father was excommunicated from the church and put in a state hospital for mental illness, I did dabble in the occult, and I sometimes do caricature art at carnivals, etc.
This is a coming-of-age story where the protagonist is wrestling with the big issues of life; is there a god, a hell, what does it mean to be good, etc. You experience a child transition up through his martyrdom, experiencing near polar opinions. Because I have rethought everything from philosophy, economics, politics, and religion I have found many issues fall into a gray spectrum. The story does not suggest enlightenment. Rather, the main character accumulates questions. This graphic novel weaves a tale with whimsical personalities and fantastic settings. Don dialogues with characters such as a snake, a bicephalic linguist, a gypsy, a shrunken head, and a Lighthouse wicker. The settings change from farm and orchard to art school and a boardwalk carnival.
Photo of a woman outdoors

Felicia Ford (Marion County)

My application of my work has transformed over time. With many active moving parts most of my work is surrounded by creative installations and experiences. The focus is activating spaces by finding ways to incorporate art into tangible exercises that a collective audience could participate in. As an example our team created an interactive wishing well, we called this an "Affirmation Well". The public participants had instructions describing their exercise, to throw their affirmation inside the well. Since this activation was outside we had to configure how to create something that would be the most effective for maintenance and outdoor weather. We did this by creating the water in the well as an illusion by using blue tarps and blue film paper. Our well was made out of recycled tires made into planters and with four feet by two feet benches that were assembled into a circle to create a well. The participants then were prompted with an "Affirmation Ball", a plastic bubble gum machine ball with a blank piece of paper inside it. They would then take the paper out and write their affirmation with the sharpie, place the affirmation back into the ball and throw it into the well. Our goal is to utilize experiences to remind others how these exercises can be impactful memories by a sense of creative direction and intentionality towards people through art.
Photo of a woman in a black shirt

Hannah Ollen (St. Joseph County)
Visual Arts

Currently, my main creative work is jewelry made from polymer clay, beads, and metal. I use traditional goldsmithing and beading techniques in my jewelry, but much of my current work is made from polymer clay. The patterns, colors, and shapes of this statement jewelry are inspired by the common objects and experiences around me: picture frames, children’s toys, calico fabrics, book covers, etc. These common objects hold narratives for me because of the way I have interacted with them in my life, and I hope that my customers connect to them in a similar way even if they are not aware of the story I have given them in their creation.
I have been able to explore techniques from other mediums in my polymer clay, such as sgraffito, engraving, and recreating the translucent effects of carved cameos and ivory. These techniques have lended themselves to the polymer clay in very satisfying ways and I enjoy being able to create small pieces of jewelry with so much detail and precision. Although most of my recent work is production jewelry intended for sale, I have recently begun working on more in-depth art jewelry pieces that I can complete with the tools I can use at home that tell a more detailed story than the work I have created for online sale and local fairs.
Photo of a woman laying on her side

Heather Landry (Vanderburgh County)

My main creative work is as a freelance illustrator, designer, and graphic novel artist and writer. I have worked with authors and musicians (many local) to illustrate the covers and internals of their books and publications, including two novels by Philip Fracassi, as well as made an extensive body of my own creative art. In addition, I have recently co-authored and illustrated a short book with author Peter Rawlik, illustrated and co-written comics for two clients including local (at the time) comic artist and jazz musician Carl Clark, written several short comics of my own and one novel, and I am in the process of illustrating this novel in the traditional manner as well as adapting it to graphic novel format. I love the combination of literature with visual art and have explored the creation of my own Ex Libris bookplates and a Totentanz "Danse Macabre" series of my own based upon the medieval concept of humanity and mortality being the common link of people of all walks of life. Many of my most successful artistic pieces are drawn from the short stories of my favorite authors. I feel the most resonance with artist-authors like William Blake who loved the beauty of color, line and verse.
Photo of a man in front of white backdrop

Huner Ali (Monroe County)
Visual Arts

My works include various media styles, video art, installations, and paintings. The nature of my artwork is storytelling expressed by calligraphy or visual symbols containing various subject matters such as honor killing, genocide, or suppression. I work on investigative and multi-disciplinary art to spotlight social and political issues. I reorganize and reform shapes and materials to create art pieces of multiple media styles, video art, installations, and paintings.
I create an art bridge between different art-making philosophies by reflecting on Middle Eastern and Western cultures. I studied western classical art in Iraq, where I learned to create art that resembles Western culture's horizontal perspective and visual aesthetics. Meanwhile, my art practices developed during my MFA study in the United States, where I worked on subject matters that reflect my country of origin's political and social issues. I sought authenticity in my work and established a system descended from Middle Eastern culture's verticality and poetic nature.
I began creating artwork that contained videos as well as installations. Somehow, these new and investigative art pieces represent both the Eastern and Western worlds. In my mind, video art stands for the eastern oral culture. Meanwhile, the installations stand for the western, predominantly materialistic, visual culture. It is a bridge I wanted to stretch between two cultures to reflect on my struggle, being transplanted and in exile.
Black and white photo of a woman

Jen Zartman Romano (Whitley County)

Born to an artist, my mother’s ability to make and sell art from resources at hand buoyed our family through difficult financial times.So, I have been creating from an early age. My earliest memories are of watching my mother paint in watercolors from the light cast by soaring, curtainless windows and the bulb of a single light in her upper story studio of our rural Whitley County farmhouse. She worked quietly and purposefully and as long as I was quiet, I was allowed to observe and occasionally participate. I didn't realize until quite recently how much of that experience was an education for me and for my future as an artist. Today, I paint in watercolors daily and completing up to 3 pieces per day sometimes as I push myself to do more. Over the years, I have also spent considerable time practicing my writing, creating jewelry, resin, weaving, doing graphic design and experimenting with many different mediums. For a long time, while I was a professional writer, photographer and graphic designer, my other artistic ventures were primarily entertained in my quiet time. Now, moving into 2023, I am preparing to launch my own new business that will enable me to utilize all of my creative skills. In my soon-to-be-opening studio, I will offer one-on-one lessons and group appointments where I can help facilitate people's exploration of art, trying new mediums and finding their own creative expression. The emphasis will be on peaceful, enjoyable self-expression and creative exploration.  I will also be selling pieces of my own art in the studio and working with other artists to provide their services to the community as well. I feel strongly that by tapping into one's creativity, we can nurture parts of our spirit that are broken or injured. I experienced a major trauma in 2018 and found that painting and writing were very therapeutic in coping. Thus, access to art, art supplies and using our own innate creativity, we can abate or positively express depression and heavy feelings that might be difficult to express in other ways.

Photo of a woman holding a camera

Jenn Bibbs (Marion County)

I am a freelance contract photographer, and my main creative work consists of portraiture, fashion and editorial photography, headshots, and events. The events that I photograph are corporate and high-end events. High-end events within my scope include runway and art shows, galas, and other industry events.
Photo of a person in a black shirt

Kate Palyshniuk (Franklin County)

My work is closely related to the search for pareidolic images in the world around me. Pareidolia is the brain's ability to see familiar animal and human faces, figures in objects, and structures where the latter cannot be by default. A simple example of pareidolia is the ability to see fairy tale characters in the form of clouds in the sky.

I complicate this task for myself by looking not only for familiar faces and figures but also for textures, and colors in the surrounding space. The special charm in it is the combined work of nature and man, the divine and the earthly, debris and human imagination. It is often the case that finding pareidolia in nature, it is difficult to believe in their "natural" non-man-made, non-human origin. They amaze, surprise, and sometimes even frighten by their realism. But the most extraordinary is "to infect" the minds and imagination of others with this "virus" of pareidolia, when armed with knowledge, a simple trip to the mountains or in the park turns into a wonderful journey with fairy tale heroes, vampires, angels, demons and dragons.

Photo of a woman in a red shirt

Katie Wood (Putnam County)

My current work is taking found objects and rethinking how to wear them as contemporary jewelry. I scour auctions, flea markets, estate sales for unique items. Back at my studio the design process begins. With brainstorming, ingenuity, and a bit of luck I create necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings. This creation process is arduous and not all pieces make it. When a piece does is a unique, one of a kind piece of jewelry.
Photo of woman with textiles around her

Kaylan Buteyn (Allen County)
Visual Arts

The art I make functions as portals; linking people, places and perceptions. I believe materials hold memory and through my art practice I investigate physical representations of generational care. My process is multi-faceted including quilting, sewing, painting, dying, gluing, stitching and more; creating layered compositions often stretched as paintings, built up on panels, or installed as hanging quilts. I include domestic textiles from my Grandmother’s generation that root the work in the past but I combine them with the language of paint and abstraction in a modern way. Bold color and heavily applied paint juxtaposes ripped, faded and torn fabric. The work serves as an investigation of knowing, of rooting, of finding – myself, my memories, my mother, aunts and grandmothers. How can one life deteriorate as another begins? How do generations intertwine and intersect? Can color and fabric combine in ways that reflect notions of our future and past selves? How do beings exist in overlapping segments of time and space, like textiles collaged or sewn together, old and new? I am cultivating a collective knowing, a continual conversation, and investigating my generational legacy through craft, textile, paint and collage.

Photo of a woman in a black shirt

Kimara Wilhite (Clark County)

I developed a love of nature, wildlife and the outdoors at an early age. That later combined with a love of photography. I am always inspired by dramatic light, and capturing fleeting moments of nature. Therefore, creating images that highlight the forces of nature and its beauty. I have a keen artist’s eye and see beauty in the everyday and also in unlikely places.

Some of my favorite subjects are wild horses, waterfalls and the seashore. My digital images are brought to life via fine art prints, or on canvas, metal and acrylic. I continually strive to better my work and to keep my creativity flowing. I also enjoy networking with other photographers by both attending and leading workshops.
Woman in front of white backdrop

Alva Krystal Wilson (The Gem Of Shaolin) (Lake County)

My artistry is fueled largely by inner dialogues on Blackness, philosophy, and spirituality, I utilize imagery-laden poetics to connect with listeners and uncover my own thoughts. Musically and in my writing I touch on a combination of enigmatic, surreal, yet cerebral, and earnest subject matter. Even with extremely abstract elements, my work is also vastly candid and introspective. The Gem Of Shaolin, acts as a title and pseudonym for Alva Krystal Wilson, a Black Afro-Latin rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, poet, and activist from Gary, IN.
Photo of a man with glasses

Kyle Darnell (Vanderburgh County)
Visual Arts

My work falls into a few different categories.  I have practiced primarily in Traditional Linoleum and Woodblock Relief printmaking for the past twelve years. I work primarily with black-and-white illustration methods using the technique. More recently I have combined it with my passion for fiction to write "Versus the Multiverse" and "Evansville Monsters". Both are illustrated with Linoleum prints to accompany a novel and collection of short stories respectively. The history of printmaking is entangled with that of literature, normally one never moves forward without the other. Illustration of stories goes back as far as human history, considering the exquisitely decorated caves of Lascaux and Chauvet. Where our ancestors would tell stories to pictures around the campfire. I make art and tell stories.
Secondly, I work with ceramics, specifically with silkscreened designs I create digitally. It's a marriage of heaven and hell, of contemporary and traditional to make art out of clay that will surely outlive me.
Photo of man in hat

Lee Rainboth (Allen County)
Visual Arts

My main creative work is centered on painting as my primary medium, with mixed media embellishments such as sequins and glitter, to portray figurative subject matter inspired by the global communities that I have called home over the years. I moved to Indiana in 2020 after 13 years of living in Haiti, which is the dominant cultural and communal environment that has influenced my art. My process has always emerged from an exploration of how to reconcile that very specific cultural influence and context in which the art was created with my own identity as a white American man from the Midwest. I am an artist who has always straddled multiple geographies, histories, and identities with my work but has always sought out ways to create visual balance and conceptual cohesion with the images that I create to honor the stories of those depicted within the work.
I paint individuals who I know on a personal level and who have volunteered to serve as the subjects for my art. I incorporate bright colors, complex patterns, and unique materials into my art that connect directly with cultural references that are relevant to the subjects themselves. I strive to create images that draw viewers into visual conversation with the subjects as the works themselves also relate to and dialogue with each other. My goal with all of the art that I create is to portray my subjects with the utmost dignity, autonomy, and sense of beauty as possible, in such a way as to counteract the often negative stereotypes portrayed of the communities they belong to through international media. Through my work I hope to show their humanity in a powerful way so that viewers of my work, no matter where they are experiencing the art at, are able to relate to the subjects in new and unexpected ways.
In addition to the visual art that I create independently, over the years my creative work has also expanded to involve curation, collection, and creative community development through collaboration with a diverse network of international artists. My own creative work only maintains meaning through its connection to these broader collective frameworks.
Photo of a woman in front of a painted backdrop

Lydia Campbell-Maher (Marion County)

I am an ethnomusicologist who specializes in sean-nós singing, a style of unaccompanied traditional singing. I am also a vocalist who was trained in Western classical music, jazz, and folk singing. As a musician, I am also skilled in playing multiple instruments including the ukulele, piano, guitar, dulcimer, mandolin, and a variety of percussion instruments. As an ethnomusicologist, I pay special attention to the role music plays in human life, with a deep passion for community music practices to promote wellness, resilience, and mental health.
Photo of a man and a dog

Matt Rees (Putnam County)
Visual Art

Formally trained in Natural History Illustration, I fell in love with the ancient artform of woodblock printing after tutoring under world renowned printmaker, Tom Huck.  I have subsequently combined my deep appreciation of the print medium with my love of nature.  My current work concentrates largely on Indiana birds and the habitats that support them, particularly the predominantly rural county in which I live.

Photo of woman with red hue

Maya Doss (Delaware County)

My main creative work has long been illustration, even though I do create art in several mediums. When I had nothing else, I had a pen and a piece of paper to fill with my imaginary world, the world I escape to daily. At this point, you could probably accumulate all the time I’ve spent drawing into several years of my life; however, it is time spent doing what I love, so who can complain? Drawing is my therapy, my oasis, my escape, my heart poured onto the page in a language I am fluent in and others understand through the lens of their own personal life experience. I often find myself inspired by this exact phenomena, the natural world and its energies, sacred patterns, and universal archetypes.

I explore creation energy, and as a channel of it, allow myself to draw in an intentional flow state, or self guided meditation. In this space my creative visions become manifest, and either develop into fully fleshed out illustrations or become the concept sketch for a project in another medium. Since I am comfortable creating in a breadth of artistic mediums, I typically create based on what I have available to me at that time, or what I believe could best be used to articulate my concept. I have often impressed my friends and clients at how quickly and accurately I can sketch up their ideas and my own; I attribute it to having spent many years dedicated to my practice.

As I have leaned more into my personal creative voice recently, I notice I have been illustrating mostly in a decorative, folk art style inspired by my unique Cuban American upbringing and roots. I love translating this into my personal work, commission work, collaborative projects, advertising, and even tattoo designs. Though I mainly illustrate, my main creative mission is to create in whatever way possible; furthermore, to express myself in whatever fashion feels authentic and share that with the world for our collective healing.
Collage of a photo of a woman and paintings

Olivia Willard (Madison County)
Visual Arts

My main creative work is focused in painting (watercolor, acrylic and mural work). I love using color to express emotion. Especially in my murals, I enjoy using bright, joyful colors to add to the landscape. Most of my large scale designs are bold, clean lines with saturated colors. I like to include themes and imagery that anyone can connect with, despite their age or artistic background. It is incredibly important that my entire community can feel a connection to the art they experience every day. In my personal work, I love to explore themes of mental health and self love through more abstracted imagery that tends to lead to more of a conversation in my exhibitions. I would love to find a way to marry these concepts a little more. I stay busiest with watercolor home portraits. While not especially passionate about the content, they provide the most consistent revenue while helping me improve my technique.

Photos of a woman in front of a gray background

Pam Blevins Hinkle (Marion County)

I am a singer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and ritualist that uses community singing to connect, heal, and transform. My creative practice is about releasing the song that is inside everyone and bringing the joy and power of collective singing to diverse people, places, and spaces beyond the choir room, classroom, and concert hall. Collective singing is the medicine we need for these times, helping communities to metabolize the joy and grief of being alive.

In my creative work, I:
1) Facilitate group singing at conferences and events that engage dozens to hundreds of people, embodying the tremendous power of collective voice in community life
2) Organize themed, group-singing experiences along rivers, inside conservatories, in outdoor sculpture gardens, and more, taking group-singing to unexpected spaces.
3) Co-lead Songsquad, Indianapolis’s only non-auditioned, all-ages ensemble. SongSquad sings oral-tradition songs, drawing from traditional and contemporary resources. Each session features short-form songs (chants, rounds, layer songs) on themes that resonate with the season, local and world events, and more. There is always sound and space to hold (and sing for) what matters to people in the moment. There is always time for participants to share songs (including their own), hot tea, cookies and  conversation. We do not perform; rather we show up to facilitate singing with other groups of people.

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Preston Buck (Jasper County)
Design Arts

My main creative work, fashion design, is inspired by my emotions and experiences I have encountered or have fantasized about. To start, I construct a theme for the pieces. This then sets the mood of the collection where I tend to spend the most time refining my vision. As I start to see the garments come to life in my head, I begin sourcing different mediums to create these pieces. I love using a lot of non-conventional things in my designs like unexpected textiles such as 3-d printed fabric or even teeth.  I love to challenge myself in creating clothes out of things that would not "normally" be used. After I begin construction and have the base of the garment done I start to alter little details until I get the piece where it needs to be. The garments tend to evolve during my creative process and always are a variation of my starting point. I like this because I can keep modifying and creating new pieces from old silhouettes and breath life into old things, reviving them in new and innovative ways. After the "completion" of the object I start to curate its environment. Where would this piece be found and how should I go about photographing it so others can view it in my lens?

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Rebecca Bailey (Pen Name: T. HarRiMaN) (Warrick County)

I write mass-market young-adult novels with literary foundations.

I brand my work as "Writing at the Heart of the Great American Prairie: Fun Fiction with a Purpose." My last release, BURN THIS BOOK: THE 10,000-YEAR PLAN, was nominated for a Pulitzer. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE called it "a thrilling must read for anyone who loves HARRY POTTER and HUNGER GAMES."

Although the Ancient Greeks considered tragedy the highest art form, I believe my highest calling is to entertain. Life is hard, so if I can give people an escape, I consider my job well done. However, there are deeper meanings and symbolism beneath my work so that if someone wants to seek that level, my work will be satisfying.

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Robin Ligon Williams (Howard County)

I am an award-winning artist, author, curator, cultural producer, and ethnomusicologist. A graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington (B.A.-Artist Development) and Liberty University (M.A.-Ethnomusicology), I have served at the helm of several Arts & Cultural institutions in the Midwest and South, spearheading Garfield Park Arts Center for City of Indianapolis, the Aviation Community Cultural Center for City of Atlanta and the New Orleans Jazz Institute at University of New Orleans. Most recently I served as executive director for the Delphi Opera House.

An advocate for the Black Indian culture for over 20 years, my extensive ethnographic study, “Rhythm, Ritual & Resistance: Africa is Alive in the Black Indians of New Orleans” received the distinction of being installed in the library of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

Photo of a woman sitting in a chair

Savannah Jacob (Marion County)
Visual Arts

Illustrating is my main creative practice. Most often I work in stylized realism, acrylic being my preferred medium, but watercolor and digital close seconds. Commissions relative to my style, and subjects of nature, my community, sustainability and femininity are my main creative works. My work ranges from 3”x3” to 22”x30” in size.

Commissioned pieces are a significant part of the creative work that I do. I enjoy being able to translate what’s important to others into something tangible, while implementing my own style. For example, I have spent the last two months creating custom ornaments. People often commission a pet, their house, or something that evokes a positive memory. I take pride in being that through-line to someone else’s personal connection to art. Ornaments are small and I prefer working in acrylic for them as it dries fast and allows me to offer customers a quick turnover. For logo and branding commissions I lean towards digital work. This makes lettering, color experimentation, and clean lines easiest.

Black and white photo of a man

Solomon Mabry (Marion County)

I'm a Fashion Photographer that aims to uplift people of color through my work. Historically, POC have been in the background in most artistic spaces, and photography is no exception. I aim to create work that brings POC to the forefront, allowing us to see ourselves in a light that we've historically been excluded from.

Photo of a woman in front of gray background

Susan Yanos (Henry County)

I am a fiber artist who “paints” with fabric to create art quilts.  After a career immersed in words, I now express through a visual and tactile medium.  I love that people want to reach out and touch my quilts, to feel as well as look at them.

Most of my work is intended for wall display.  I hope it encourages viewers to re-vision the extraordinary in the ordinary, the complex in the simple or vice versa.  I enjoy the challenge of showing light and shadow, a subject’s expression and character, and even a story—all through fabric.  Many of my quilts are inspired by my native Hoosier landscape and by what I see and do on our farm.  These quilts become icons of rural life.  “Sanctuary” reveals that creation is infused with the divine, a temple to and for its creator.  In “Nautilus,” the shell’s chambers are a spiral of stained-glass windows representing the history of the universe—from chaos to order and beyond.  “Solar Symphony” celebrates the cyclical movements of day to night, spring to winter.  I tend to focus on subjects of natural beauty, but beauty can be found in all aspects of creation, even in the stalking of birds by cats.  “Belles of Autumn’s Ball” celebrates the beauty of plants labeled as undesirable, as weeds.  I have also explored emotions through an imaginative use of myth or fairy tale.  And I sometimes blend traditional and non-traditional quilt design elements.

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Sydney Wells (Bartholomew County)

I just self published and released my first children's book, "So You Say You Can't Sleep...". It's a colorful night time board book that rhymes and flows effortlessly for parents and young readers. It touches on the fact that kids often don't want to go to sleep at night. They sometimes feel like they're missing out on whatever is going on in the living room/kitchen or wherever their parents/caretakers are. However, what they're really missing out on are all of the amazing adventures kids can have in their sleep when they dream! This book illustrates just a few of those epic adventures and helps kids look forward to going to bed at night while also (hopefully) fueling their own creative thoughts and ideas.

I'm currently working on a starter "Dream Journal" for kids to foster early writing and another children's book, "So You Don't Want To Read...". This book similarly illustrates some of the different adventures or even alternate worlds you can enter when you dive into a book and therefore encourages kids to read.