The Illinois Artisans Program focuses national attention on the rich heritage of the fine crafting that exists in Illinois. Our juried artists participate in art sprees, craft festivals, exhibitions and other events held at our locations in order to promote their work.

 

August Feature: Heartland Patterns by Carole Hughes Hennessy

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Illinois Artisans, Chicago is delighted to feature Carole Hughes Hennessy this August. Perhaps best known for her washes, Hughes Hennessy is drawing to the Midwest Landscape. 

Over the years, I have no doubt covered thousands of miles by car and plane to view many thousands of acres.  And I have sketched or painted many of those acres.  My paintings represent my interpretation of what I have seen and explored.  I have tried to portray both the simplicity and the complexity of the barn and farm of the Midwest.

Fiber in Bloom

Artisan Interview: Ausrine Kerr

Lithuanian born artisan, Ausrine Kerr, worked with leather for nearly 25 years, yet in the last decade Kerr has sought out other artistic mediums. to express her active imagination. Kerr worked with leather handcrafting everything from books, bags, albums and boxes, to leather paintings and embossing.

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Five Great Locations in Illinois for Photography

A longtime resident of Southern Illinois, Chris Main is a conservationist and photographer who focuses on the beauty found right here in Illinois.

hope to motivate others to visit some of these treasures. I believe it is only by immersing oneself in the landscape that one comes to love the land and care about it’s preservation. Short of this, people have difficulty comprehending the awe-factor that the natural world offers. This is part of the power and purpose of landscape photography: to cause people to want to experience and save what is left of our native landscape.

So now, 5 Great place in Illinois for Photographers:

  1. Heron Pond in the Shawnee National Forest has a length of boardwalk that takes you out into the middle of a Cypress-Tupelo Swamp. You will swear you are in the heart of a Louisiana bayou.

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About the Video

Illinois Artisan Kathryn Collins of Chicago discusses her oil paintings on display at the Cook County Law Library.Kathyrn Collins, a Chicago native calls her work “Nu-Expression”, a clearly unique approach to Impressionism.  Each composition makes a statement.  Intimate spaces without a sense of boundaries provide a sense of being there.  See more images of the Collins’ work.

About the Collaboration:

The Illinois Artisans Program if the Illinois State Museum promotes the work of Illinois artists. Through a jury process we select exceptional artists to be represented at our 3 curated gallery stores and exhibition spaces. Approached by the Cook County Law Library for a collaboration, we selected a group of work to balance the cityscape views from the library. Currently on display is our second installment of work by Illinois Artisans.  

About the Video:

Illinois Artisan Beth Shadur of Highland Park discusses her watercolor work on display at the Cook County Law Library. “My newest work in the “away with the faeries” series investigates the sacred symbol of the spiral, not only as reflected in Celtic history, but within various ancient and recent cultures throughout history, as the oldest existing symbol of human spirituality. “ See more of the work on display.

About the Collaboration:

The Illinois Artisans Program if the Illinois State Museum promotes the work of Illinois artists. Through a jury process we select exceptional artists to be represented at our 3 curated gallery stores and exhibition spaces. Approached by the Cook County Law Library for a collaboration, we selected a group of work to balance the cityscape views from the library. Currently on display is our second installment of work by Illinois Artisans.  

Sculptural Embellishments

Artisan Interview: Sandra Wilcoxon, Oak Park, IL

Featured at Illinois Artisans, Chicago in May 2014 is the Chicago base jewelry designer: Sandra Wilcoxon. The exhibition highlights how when presented with new materials, Wilcoxon found two new veins to her work: free-form woven jewelry and embellished skulls.

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Wilcoxon has always had a creative streak. She attended Hamline University in St. Paul Minnesota where she earned a BA in studio art focusing on printmaking, ceramics and sculpture. Staying active in the arts, Wilcoxon worked at nonprofits and arts organization. Traveling throughout the world in her spare time, Wilcoxon began collecting beads. She first turned them into jewelry for herself, for friends and then expanded to sell to the public. Building a jewelry business, she focused on pearls and unusual beads often arranged in color stories such as, “Four Seasons,” “Fall Leaves,” or “Fruit Salad”.

Then one day her husband went to Africa without her, Wilcoxon requested he bring back some interesting beads. He returned with tubes of seed beads, not even actually made in Africa. Wilcoxon, trained by her arts degree, considered this a chance to tackle a new project with a new set of constraints.

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Lighthearted

Artisan Interview: Lisa Slodki Chicago, IL

Recognizable by her elegant geometric designs, Chicago jeweler Lisa Slodki started her career over 20 years ago as a self-taught artist. From her first art fair in 8th grade to attending Illinois State University for Metals & Jewelry Design, to launching her career in Chicago, Lisa has always focused on the details. In her jewelry that can be seen in the smooth surfaces and decisive forms. In her career as an artist, the details drive her to evaluate trends with critical eye and strive for jewelry that isn’t overworked but is open to interpretation.

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While surgeon and architect were on the short list of careers Lisa contemplated, Lisa attended Illinois State University to expand her jewelry technique and design knowledge.  

In school, I always had one foot in the craft area and one foot in the conceptual. [I] did sculpture, installation, video and performance stuff. And I’d be down in the metals shop and that’s about craft.

While still making jewelry, after graduation Lisa worked in the art department of a book store. There she learned from the manager and vendors on how to run a business, from sales pitches, purchase orders, to standard mark-ups.

So when the decisive moment came to launch her jewelry, Lisa was ready to hit the pavement.

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Question and Answer session with Bonnie Lopez

Illinois Artisan Bonnie Lopez creates Calaveras Figures from paper mache and brown paper. These lively figures are a celebration of life and remembering past loved ones. During October, Illinois Artisans, Chicago featured Bonnie Lopez, and she joined us one afternoon for an artist talk on the tradition of Day of the Dead and her own art practice.

Find the full interview here. After the artist talk Bonnie Lopez stayed and answered questions about her calaveras.

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Q: When you are finishing a piece, how do you know when it is finished?

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Dia De Los Muertos

Artist Talk: Bonnie Lopez

In celebration of  Chicago Artists Month + Illinois Art & Humanities Month
Illinois Artisan Bonnie Lopez creates Calaveras Figures from paper mache and brown paper. These lively figures are a celebration of life and remembering past loved ones. During October, Illinois Artisans, Chicago featured Bonnie Lopez, and she joined us one afternoon for an artist talk on the tradition of Day of the Dead and her own art practice.

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Day of the Dead:

“Mexicans on the other hand, not only accept the inevitability of death, they embrace its power as being essential to the fabric of life. As Octavio Paz wrote in THE LABRYRINTH OF SOLITUDE, ‘The Mexican is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it: it is one of his favorite toys and his most steadfast love.’ For them, dying isn’t fatal: its part of the continuum of time and space.” (Day of the Death, by Gina Hyams)

Why Calaveras?

I’ve had a love affair with skeletons from the time I was probably four or five years old. For some reason my whole life I’ve been attracted to skeletons and skeleton art.

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Leaping steel and wood sculptures

Artisan Interview: Jeff Engbring, Cobden, IL

Jeff Engbring, a full time carpenter, has always created wood sculptures. Over the last 30 years Engbring’s work has transformed into dynamic forms combining steel and wood. Engbring’s knowledge of technique, materials and subject matter result in large graceful sculptures that leap from the wood and steel. 

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Imaginative Sculptures

Artisan Interview: Annelies Heijnen, Mount Vernon, IL



In art there is a balance between knowing the artist’s intentions and the freedom to interpret art freely and through the lens of our own experiences. Perhaps in figurative work the desire to narrate is stronger, which is why Annelies Heijnen’s work begs the question: “Can you tell me the story?”


But if asked, Annelies Heijnen hesitates to reveal the thoughts and stories going through her mind while making each sculpture.


“I like people to interpret their own story. I spend two weeks on the drawing, and in that time you build your own story. But it is good that you don’t know. Knowing you take away the fun of the piece. Then you don’t have discussion, because you already have the answers. And maybe they aren’t your answers.”

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Living with Clay

Artisan Interview: Kristi Sloniger, Oak Park, IL

There is a beautiful orchestration of steps in a pottery studio. The flow of work between throwing, trimming, bisque, glazing to final firing is the repetition of the same actions over and over. Potters spend hours in quiet concentration, working with raw clay, refining it at each step, working towards the final stages where form and glaze are revealed.

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In a very similar way a musician spends hours repeating the same actions and practicing for a performance. So for studio potter Kristi Sloniger  the connection between her training as a musician and her 30 years as a studio potter can be seen through the discipline of practice and her newest body of work exploring repetition.

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The Tree Transformed: From Trunk to Table

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Artisan Interview: Roger Grimes, Chicago, IL

Sitting down to interview Chicago artisan Roger Grimes in his home, Grimes starts in by pointing out the table we gathered around:

“This is the table of my dreams. It must have been a tremendous walnut”

Grimes constructed the table from a 300 or 400 year old walnut tree recovered from a river bead revealed as the water changed directions, that ended up in a warehouse in the 60’s. For Roger Grimes the story behind each piece of wood and the natural beauty found within is why he creates furniture and why conservation is at the heart of Grimes’ story.

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While some artists design furniture then find a piece of wood to create it, Roger Grimes approaches work from a complete opposite philosophy

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Drawings on Jewelry

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Interview with Artisan: Patty Schwegmann: Champaign, IL

Each piece in Patty Schwegmann’s line of contemporary jewelry is created with exactness and features a variety of clay glazing techniques. It is no surprise then to learn that Schwegmann worked in a microbiology lab and started her creative career as a potter. Combining creativity with discipline gives Schwegmann’s jewelry both playfulness, but also a level of precision.

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Welcome to the Spring 2013 Artisans!

Available now at your nearest Artisans Location!

Illinois Artisans Program is excited to announce the results of the Spring 2013 Jury.

Congratulations to our new artisans! 20 artisans joined The Illinois Artisans Program. Scroll through the May posts to see the new artisans and read a bit about their work.  

The Illinois Artisans Program is continually looking for talented new artists to join the Program. All areas of arts and crafts, including folk, traditional, contemporary, and ethnic, as well as fine art forms are eligible. Over 1,800 artists have been jury selected into the IAP. Juried artists participate in art sprees, craft festivals and other events in order to promote their work. (Want to apply? Read more here)