Angelo Reese was looking for a way to change his life. He found motivation in an opportunity to showcase an original piece of art during the Art on the Green festival held Sept. 11 and 12.
"Instead of going around complaining, I was going to go out and do something," said Reese, 30.
Reese is one of 30 special needs individuals from the Hanson Center participating in Individual Expressions, an art exhibit on display during the festival in the Burr Ridge Village Center.
Twenty-nine businesses in the Village Center will showcase a piece representing an artist's interpretation of the store. The artists were matched with a business and created a piece of work reflecting the color scheme and theme of the store.
The final result is a diverse collection of paintings, sculpture and mixed media art.
"The people we support are gifted in so many different ways," said Rosalie Der, qualified human services professional at the Hanson Center, who is coordinating the event. "We're so grateful to have the opportunity to share their artistic talents."
Reese's art work will be on display at the Kohler Store Saturday and Sunday. He painted his interpretation of an advertisement for a shower head. He mixed his own paints for the brick background and used a glue gun to create a 3D effect of water raining down from the shower head.
Is he proud to display his work? "A little bit," said the Downers Grove resident.
Reese is among the 47 special needs individuals receiving support services and life skills training at the Hanson Center's Mize Community Learning Center. The Hanson Center is part of the Ray Graham Association for People with Disabilities, which provides support to more than 1,800 clients and families in Du Page County.
The Hanson Center's involvement in the art fair is about more than just art—it's also about inclusion. Part of Ray Graham's mission is to foster the full participation of people with developmental disabilities in their communities.
"It means a lot to be sought out and included," Der said. "To be a part of the community is tremendous."
The Village Center was looking for an opportunity to benefit a local nonprofit during this year's art fair. And since the Hanson Center had been participating in the farmers market, which is also hosted by the Village Center, they were a natural fit. The Village Center will host an artist's appreciation party Saturday night to benefit the Hanson Center.
Individual pieces of art are for sale via silent auction. The money goes directly to the artist.
"The pieces of work are super-creative," said Kimberly Mans, property manager of the Burr Ridge Village Center. "[The Hanson Center] totally exceeded our expectations."