Make a Wave

Make a Wave is an artist-to-artist grant program that erases the traditional gatekeeper by inviting each of the previous year’s 3Arts Awards recipients to select another artist to receive a surprise award from 3Arts—in effect sending a wave through Chicago’s brilliant cultural core.

Thanks to our 2021 Make a Wave Presenting Partner, The Joyce Foundation, we are making a bigger wave than ever before by doubling the grant to $4,000 each and inviting all past 3Arts Award recipients to select artists this year. We are also grateful to the Siragusa Family Foundation for being our Make a Wave Partner and to the Reva & David Logan Foundation for providing general operating support for this program.



2021 Make a Wave Presenting Partner

2021 Make a Wave Partner


four images of artist work


  • Black woman, angled right and outward from the camera, with short coily black hair and smiling slightly

    ebere agwuncha

    Designer, Maker, Artist Make a Wave Artist

    ebere agwuncha (b.1997, Chicago) is a designer, maker and artist currently based in Chicago via Nigeria. She earned an Industrial Design degree from Iowa State University in 2019, and has since been working on several interdisciplinary projects extending into community …

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    Charín Álvarez

    Actor Make a Wave Artist

    Charín Álvarez was born in Mexico and started acting in 1996 in Chicago.  She has worked at Teatro Vista, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Writer’s Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Court Theatre, Remy Bumppo Theatre, About Face Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre, …

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    Anwulika Anigbo

    Domestic Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Anwulika Anigbo works at the intersection of everyday life and art. Her work is rooted in the process of creation within the domestic setting, as a domestic worker. She is a self-taught artist working primarily with film photography and textiles. …

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    Karen Azarnia

    Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Karen Azarnia is an artist, educator, and curator. Born in Miami, FL, she currently lives and works in Chicago. Her work explores relationships between people, home, memory, natural life cycles, and the basic human emotions that connect us all including …

  • Young Black cis woman with beautiful brown skin, piercing brown eyes, and a contagious smile

    Bella BAHHS

    Revolutionary Raptivist Make a Wave Artist

    Bella BAHHS (Black Ancestors Here Healing Society) is a Chicago-based raptivist and revolutionary, nationally known for making sedition irresistible through her art, activism, and advocacy for prison industrial complex abolition.

  • black woman with brown hair and hazel eyes

    Armani Baker

    Actor, Improviser, Writer, Storyteller Make a Wave Artist

    Armani Baker is an actor, writer, improviser, and storyteller. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and recently graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Armani began her theatrical training as a …

  • White Latina with long dark hair gifted to her by her mother and deep brown eyes bestowed by her father

    Laura Alcalá Baker

    Director & New Work Developer Make a Wave Artist

    Laura Alcalá Baker is a director and new work developer. She formerly served as the Casting Director/Artistic Programs Manager at Victory Gardens Theater. Most recently, she directed the world premiere of Isaac Gomez’s The Leopard Play, or sad songs for …

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    Margaret Bennett

    Multidisciplinary Performance & Installation Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Maggie Bennett is an embodiment-based artist working primarily in performance genres. Based in Chicago since 2019, she grew up in Louisville, KY where she trained in classical ballet, then graduated with BAs in English and Dance from Connecticut College. She …

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    Tuli Bera

    Mover, Choreographer, Teacher Make a Wave Artist

    Tuli Bera (she/they) is a Bengali-American movement artist. They draw from various styles of dance: Indian folk and classical forms, Classical (early teachers include Gwendolyn Lee and Deanna Doty) and Contemporary Ballet, Modern and Contemporary dance forms (Horton, Graham, Umufundalai, …

  • person with sky blue blouse, green mountain pants, with a crystal necklace and tree roots hanging in the background.

    Bonsai Bermudez

    Multidisciplinary Theatre Maker & Director Make a Wave Artist

    Bonsai Bermudez completed a Master's degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Puerto Rico with a concentration on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) issues. During their time in school, they complimented course work with research …

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    Visual Painter Make a Wave Artist

    A born and bred Chicagoan, BillyD draws his artistic influences from many outlets of life: from the day-to-day life on the west side of Chicago to his love for 1980's and early 90's design ads. Visual art is BillyD’s main focus, but …

  • Open hearted, good spirited person

    D'onminique Boyd Riley

    Dancer, Writer, Educator, Cultural Organizer, Filmmaker Make a Wave Artist

    Having contributed to the field of dance in varying roles as a performer, student, educator, healer, community member, arts administrator, programmer, and dance writer, D’onminique Boyd Riley has a well rounded perspective of the arts. D’onminique’s dance artistry involves the …

  • black woman with Dark Brown Hair and Brown eyes

    Janai Brugger

    Vocalist Make a Wave Artist

    American soprano, Janai Brugger, is a 2012 winner of Operalia, The World Opera Competition, and of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She appears this season in the Dutch National Opera’s Missa in tempore belli under the baton of maestro Lorenzo …

  • White woman with straight, short grey hair and blue eyes

    Eiren Caffall

    Musician, Songwriter, Prose writer, Vocalist, Screenwriter Make a Wave Artist

    Eiren Caffall is a musician and writer based in Chicago, Illinois. She has released three records of original songs with her band, including Slipping the Holdfast, Civil Twilight, and Prairie Music. She is the screenwriter for Becoming Ocean, …

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    Oswaldo Calderon

    Actor, Writer, Director Make a Wave Artist

    Oswaldo Calderon is an actor, writer, and director who calls the Spanish speaking community of Chicago his home. It has been his privilege, for more than 20 years, to perform for an audience so richly diverse. Calderon has performed everything …

  • White man with beard and blue prosthetic eyes holds two drumsticks

    Tommy Carroll

    Drummer, Composer, Beatmaker, Bandleader Make a Wave Artist

    Tommy Carroll is a drummer, composer, and beatmaker who happens to be totally blind. He leads Calculated Discomfort, an eight-piece jazz dance collective that performs throughout the city. In his work, Tommy draws on dance music and improvisation to create …

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    Kim Chayeb

    Poet, Painter, Performance Artist, Producer, Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Kim Chayeb is the Two-Spirit founder and CEO of Wild Tongues as well as a multidisciplinary artist, holistic healer, activist, and educator originally from San Diego, California via Indian Trail, North Carolina. Chayeb graduated from the School of the Art …

  • Chinese American woman with long black hair and brown eyes

    C. C. Ann Chen

    Visual Artist & Educator Make a Wave Artist

    C. C. Ann Chen is an artist and educator. Her work stems from architecture and landscape, exploring perceptual translations and misinterpretations of place and time. Projects range from direct observation to site-specific work, engaging landscape with an open, experiment-based approach. Recent …

  • Black femme with light tan skin, thick locked brown hair flying high, wearing black tank top and charcoal shorts

    Aaliyah Christina

    Improvisational Movement Maker & Writer Make a Wave Artist

    Born in Ruston, Louisiana and raised across Louisiana, Maryland, and Texas, Aaliyah Christina creates and supports performance work as an administrator, curator, movement artist, and writer. She improvises dances and writes poetic-prose about relationship/power dynamics, mental health, and Blackness as …

  • Black man with short black hair

    Wardell Julius Clark

    Actor, Director, Producer Make a Wave Artist

    Wardell Julius Clark is an award-winning actor, director, producer, and activist who hails from Fairfield, Alabama but now calls Chicago home. He earned his BFA from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Wardell is a Company Member with TimeLine Theatre. …

  • Afro-Latina woman with light brown jumbo twists and fiery eyes

    Kristiana Rae Colón

    Writer, Producer, Actor, Organizer Make a Wave Artist

    Kristiana Rae Colón is a poet, playwright, actor, educator, producer, curator, creator of #BlackSexMatters, co-director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective, the inaugural Sam Roberson Fellow at Congo Square Theater, and staff writer on season 4 of The Chi. Past works …

  • Black man with long dread locs, brown eyes, and glasses

    Isaac Couch

    Fashion Designer & Fiber Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Originally from Western KY where corn is farmed and coal is mined, Isaac Couch has brought his southern perspective to the northern city of Chicago where he lives and works. After receiving a Bachelor of Art degree in Merchandising Apparel and Textiles …

  • Moderately tattooed white woman with wavy red hair and blue eyes

    Julia Cox

    Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher Make a Wave Artist

    Julia Cox grew up dancing at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park while performing and choreographing with MOMENTA Dance Company. After attending Northern Illinois University on scholarship under Randall Newsome and Judith Chitwood, Julia became a Nationally …

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    Robin K. DaSilva

    Singer, Actress, Choral Director, Vocal Arranger, Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Robin K. DaSilva is a singer-songwriter, actress, educator, and advocate for the arts. DaSilva is a Jeff Award and Black Theater Alliance award winner and has performed in many theatrical productions throughout the Chicagoland area. DaSilva has been a worship …

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    Miguel de la Cerna

    Pianist, Music Director, Composer, Arranger Make a Wave Artist

    Miguel de la Cerna is the third generation in a distinguished lineage of Chicago piano jazz greats. His grandfather, pianist General Morgan, accompanied and recorded with both Billie Holliday and Henry “Red” Allen, and recording artist Gloria Morgan was de …

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    Laura DeMorst

    Graphic Designer & Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Laura DeMorst is a graphic designer and visual artist from Bolingbrook, Illinois. Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design from the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 2014. During her years at the Academy, …

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    Justin Dillard

    Pianist, Organist, Percussionist, Composer, & Arranger Make a Wave Artist

    Born and raised on the west side of Chicago and attending both Vandercook College of Music and The Velvet Lounge; Justin Dillard’s studies at both institutions gave him the honorable privilege to work with innovators locally and globally performing/recording with …

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    Jory Drew

    Multidisciplinary Artist & Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Jory Drew is a multidisciplinary artist and educator. Their work reckons with the social constructions of race, gender, and love and how they influence the economic, legal, and political conditions that affect Black intimacy and liberation. Drew received their BFA …

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    D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem

    Space Sculptor and Performance Artist Make a Wave Awardee

    D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem is transnational “space sculptor,” whose award-winning teaching, art, and writing bridge modalities of ritual, design, ecology, and Afrofuturity. Her practice reflects an ongoing engagement with site, body, visibility, identity, and the politics of Black femme labor within …

  • Black woman with long curly brown hair and brown eyes

    Coco Elysses

    Musician, Actress, Composer, Beat Maker, Diddley Bow Make a Wave Artist

    Coco Elysses, a modern-day renaissance woman who hails from Robbins, Illinois, is a producer, musician, actress, voice-over artist, screenwriter, doula, and poet. Coco completed her MFA in creative writing. She has won the Alliance of Latinx Theatre Artists …

  • Mexican-Bolivian man wearing white large-brimmed hat and sunglasses with the sky behind him

    Xristian Alejandro Espinoza

    Multidisciplinary Space Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Xristian Alejandro Espinoza is a Mexican and Bolivian sculptor, painter, and musician based in Chicago. Xristian uses art as a language of space and encoded archetypes to explore the subconscious and determination of alter-destiny.

  • White woman with dark blonde hair and green eyes

    Jyl Fehrenkamp (Jyldo)

    Dancer & Soft-Rock Siren Make a Wave Artist

    Jyl Fehrenkamp’s (Jyldo) creative work ranges from cardboard cut-out burlesque to sensual, seated aerobics.  She is the lead minister and founder of The Soft Rock Sanctuary, a Hall & Oates-inspired fellowship service co-created with musician Nicholas Pamela Davio. Jyldo continues …

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    Maya Zazhil Fernández

    Cultural Worker, Traditional Music Practitioner, Community Organizer/Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Maya Zazhil Fernández grew up in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods of Chicago as a third generation Mexican-Peruvian. Coming from a family of musicians, linguists, and cultural workers, at an early age she developed a passion for and commitment …

  • smiling woman with blonde hair

    Ladonna Freidheim

    Dancer & Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Ladonna Freidheim is passionate about dance, inclusion, science, & joy! She is a formally trained dancer, experienced arts administrator, and disability inclusion specialist. After degenerative disability ended Ladonna's ballerina life, she recovered from surgeries with paralympic athletes. They taught her …

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    Maria Gaspar

    Interdisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Maria Gaspar is an interdisciplinary artist whose work addresses issues of spatial justice to amplify, mobilize, or divert structures of power through individual and collective gestures. Gaspar's projects have been supported by the Art for Justice Fund, the Robert Rauschenberg …

  • White woman with short blonde hair

    Meighan Gerachis

    Actor Make a Wave Artist

    Meighan Gerachis is an actor whose Chicago credits include: The Wolves, A Christmas Carol, Blue Skies Process, and Graveyard Shift (Goodman Theatre); Admissions and Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (Theater Wit); Small Mouth Sounds and Solstice …

  • black woman with Curly black hair and Brown eyes

    Jennifer Glasse

    Actor and Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Jennifer Glasse is an actor and teaching artist from the West Side of Chicago. She is an Ensemble Member at The Gift Theatre where her credits include Wolf PlayDoubt: A ParableHang Man, and A Life Extra …

  • Woman with Brown eyes and long, curly brown hair

    Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel

    Actor Make a Wave Artist

    Cruz Gonzalez-Cadel is an award-winning actor born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina who received her degree in acting from the Universidad del Salvador. She is an ensemble member at Teatro Vista where she was seen in Hope: Part II of …

  • Mixed race woman with wavy black hair

    Suzy Grant

    Dancer, Improvisor, Performer Make a Wave Artist

    Suzy Grant creates performances that bridge elements of contemporary dance, drag, storytelling, and improvisation to investigate gender, sexuality, race, and perception. Over the span of her career, she has been drawn to projects embodied in both movement and vocal work …

  • African American Human

    Damon D. Green

    Movement Educator, Dancer, Performance Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Damon D. Green is a dance artist and founder of TEXTUREDance Studio, an Urban Styles and Forms dance and wellness facility located in Chicago’s Buena Park neighborhood. Green is a well-versed and prominent contemporary performer in Chicago and has proven …

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    Maray Gutierrez

    Dancer, Rehearsal Director, Dance Teacher, Collaborator Make a Wave Artist

    Maray Gutierrez is a native of Havana, Cuba where she trained at the National School of Dance. For ten years, her strength and powerful expression were revealed as a principal dancer for the internationally acclaimed Danza Contemporánea de Cuba. While …

  • Person with brown hair and green eyes, hair pulled back, wearing black top and chunky necklace

    Sarvin Haghighi

    Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Sarvin Haghighi derives her aesthetic from myriad sources: Persian antiquity, contemporary Iran, Farsi calligraphy, and Islamic architecture. This distillation results in magical gems of art emboldened with a contemporary sensibility. Her past resonates with the harsh challenges of experiencing war …

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    Rajiv Halim

    Saxophonist, Composer, Bandleader, Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Rajiv Halim is a saxophonist, composer, and educator from Chicago. Internationally, Rajiv has performed at venues and festivals in Canada, Poland, Belize, and Taiwan. Nationally, Rajiv has performed and/or recorded with many great musicians, including Jennifer Hudson, Chance the Rapper, …

  • black bald man wearing sunglasses and a gray Suit

    Byron Harden

    Teaching Artist working with Blind Artists, Producers & Engineers Make a Wave Artist

    Byron Harden is the founder and owner of I See Music (ISM), a vocational school originally created to teach audio production to visually impaired individuals. Most recently, ISM also opened its doors to sighted students. In addition to a school, I …

  • Middle-aged white person

    Judith Harding

    Writer, Performer, Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Judith Harding makes theater and performance work in collaboration with people with cognitive and neuro differences. She is a company member of Tellin' Tales Theatre.

  • Black woman with curly hair wearing a red plaid shirt

    Tanji Harper

    Artistic Director, Choreographer, Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Tanji Harper is a teaching artist and choreographer proud to be from, and still residing on, the South Side of Chicago. Harper was trained by the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater, Chicago Dance Medium, Homer Bryant, and Joel Hall, and …

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    Gretchen Hasse

    Visual Artist, Filmmaker, Curator Make a Wave Artist

    Gretchen is a Chicago-based storyteller working in comics, video, animation, murals, and installation. She co-founded Agitator ArtistCollective in 2017, and since then curation has also been a crucial part of her practice.

    Gretchen’s documentary videos for social justice campaigns have …

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    Rae-Myra Hilliard

    Teaching Artist, Vocalist, Lecturer Make a Wave Artist

    Rae-Myra Hilliard is equally at home in operatic, solo concert, and choral singing. As an active recitalist, Rae-Myra regularly programs works featuring Black American composers/lyricists or works written for a classical singer of color. Her most recent recital performed …

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    Jennifer Hodges

    Mixed Media & Abstract Painter Make a Wave Artist

    Jennifer L. Hodges is an abstract acrylic and mixed media visual artist originally from Detroit. Hodges received a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Western Michigan University and a Master of Business Administration through the Baumhart Scholars program at Loyola University …

  • Person with short brown hair and brown eyes

    Darryl J. Hoffman

    Musician, DJ, Composer Make a Wave Artist

    Darryl J. Hoffman, originally from Bronx, New York, is a composer based in Chicago. With his lifelong love for music, he developed a curiosity for sound and began creating at the age of 13. His resume of compositions includes works …

  • woman with straight dark brown hair with bangs

    Billie Howard

    Violinist, Pianist, Improviser, Composer Make a Wave Artist

    Billie Howard is a pianist, violinist, and sound artist who composes experimental music that focuses on breathing cycles, chronic pain, and mediation with both quiet and extremely loud sounds. Under the name Akosuen, Billie is at work on a trilogy …

  • black man with Brown Eyes

    Armani Howard

    Multidisciplinary Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Armani Howard is an African American-Thai contemporary artist, working primarily in painting and drawing. His work explores themes of identity preservation, escapism, pop culture, self-discovery, mental health, and loss of innocence. The direction of reimagining his existence and experiences as …

  • Woman with long brown hair and blue eyes

    Brandin Hurley

    Installation Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Brandin Hurley is an installation artist with a background in scenic design. Although her medium varies, her favorite element is light, and she enjoys experimenting with its flexibility and ethereal wonder in all contexts. Her work, often inspired by the …

  • Hawaiian-Chinese woman with brown dreads and brown eyes

    Hannah Ii-Epstein

    Dramatist & Creative Writer Make a Wave Artist

    Hannah Ii-Epstein is a creative writer, dramatist, and Artistic Director of Nothing Without a Company. She was born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu and received an MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage at Northwestern University …

  • Black/ African American male with a slim, athletic build

    Anthony Irons

    Actor, Director, Writer Make a Wave Artist

    Anthony Irons is an actor, writer, and director. He received his BA in theater from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his MFA in acting from Penn State University. Anthony is a proud ensemble member of both Congo Square …

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    Joshua L. Ishmon

    Dancer, Choreographer, Storyteller Make a Wave Artist

    Joshua L. Ishmon is a native of Gary, Indiana. He is a 2007 graduate of the Emerson School for the Visual and Performing Arts where he also studied with Ballet Chicago and M.A.D.D. Rhythms. After completing Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s …

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    Lavina C. Jadhwani

    Director, Adaptor, Educator, Activist Make a Wave Artist

    In 2019, Lavina C. Jadhwani became the first woman of color to direct Shakespeare at the Guthrie Theater. Her training as a director includes a well-rounded education (BFA in Scenic Design and MA in Arts Management from the Carnegie Mellon …

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    Runako Jahi

    Theater Artist, Educator, Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Runako Jahi culturally defines his art as “telling the African American story in the first voice.” He began his theatrical journey in 1972 as an actor, then later developed into a director, playwright, and graphic artist. As a teaching artist, …

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    Kimberly Eileen Jones

    Vocalist & Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Kimberly Eileen Jones is a soprano alum of the Ryan Opera Center with Lyric Opera of Chicago and a recipient of a grant from The Shoshana Foundation supporting emerging American opera singers. Shortly after her training she participated in the …

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    Lynne Jordan

    Vocalist, Actor, Storyteller Make a Wave Artist

    In a city brimming with classic blues and jazz voices, Lynne Jordan stands out as vocalist, bandleader, solo performer, and storyteller. Not only do her soaring vocals dip effortlessly into blues, jazz, funk, rock, and even country, but her bawdy …

  • Laura Kina is pictured on her patio on a sunny fall day. She looks directly and confidently at the camera. She has short white hair, red glasses, and small hoop earrings. She is wearing a striped black and white shirt.

    Laura Kina

    Painter Make a Wave Artist

    Laura Kina is a queer, mixed-race Uchinanchu artist-scholar whose artistic and scholarly projects address Asian American and Okinawan diasporic art. Her latest body of work "Over the Rainbow, One More Time" is about surviving breast cancer and coming out during …

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    KIKI King

    Dancer, Choreographer, Director, Community Organizer, Collaborator, Photographer Make a Wave Artist

    Kierah “KIKI” King is a dancer whose passion for justice, activism, and community-building emerges through powerful choreographic work. She is based in Chicago as an independent movement artist, director, and organizer with a commitment to connecting and advancing the dance …

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    Tariyawn Knighten

    Multidisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Tariyawn Knighten is an artist, documentarian, educator, and self-published author whose work is informed by his experience growing up in Chicago’s K-town neighborhood (whose name derives from its placement between Pulaski Road and Cicero Avenue where the names of the …

  • White woman with brown hair, brown eyes and glasses

    Jenni Lamb

    Playwright, Teacher, Theater Maker Make a Wave Artist

    Jenni Lamb has spent the last two decades as a performer, writer, teacher, and theater maker in Chicago. She is a former resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and a member of the Goodman Playwrights Unit (2015). Her plays Jumble of …

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    Rodrigo Lara

    Multidisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Rodrigo Lara is a multidisciplinary artist born in Mexico. He received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 2013 and a BFA from the Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico (2003). Lara has had solo …

  • Black woman with multicolored braids adorning the top of her head, smiling at the camera

    Stacy Letrice

    Dancer, Dance Therapist, Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Stacy Letrice is a dancer, choreographer, instructor, mas band leader, and dance therapist with more than 20 years of experience working locally and globally. In 2017, she was crowned an official "Dancehall Queen" after competing in Minnesota. Her passion for …

  • Black/African American Woman with Wavy colored hair and Brown eyes

    Cydney M. Lewis

    Multimedia & Installation Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Cydney M. Lewis is a multimedia artist with a multidisciplinary and distinguished background. Her art practice highlights the transformation and manipulation of materials. Lewis considers the intersection of the natural, spiritual, and scientific worlds. She began in architecture, receiving a …

  • A white woman with wavy brown hair smiles slyly at the camera, holding a pair of percussion mallets out toward the viewer. She is wearing a red, black and white patterned blouse in front of a gray background.

    Rebecca McDaniel

    Percussionist & Arts Administrator Make a Wave Artist

    Rebecca McDaniel is passionate about sharing music with others and about supporting the creativity of young musicians. Relying on music as a unifying force, Rebecca seeks to share curiosity and joy as a performer, educator, and arts administrator. She is …

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    Jaclyn Mednicov

    Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Jaclyn Mednicov is a Chicago-based artist whose work combines painting, printmaking, sculpture, and installation. She has her BFA from University of Kansas, her MA from Eastern Illinois University, and MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mednicov …

  • Person with pink hair and green eyes

    Catherine Miller

    Casting Director, Dramaturg, Gender Consultant Make a Wave Artist

    Originally from San Diego, California, Catherine Miller is a proud Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) casting director, dramaturg, producer, and gender consultant. They are the resident casting director at Jackalope Theatre and First Floor Theater. Additionally, they have cast productions for Haven …

  • Mexican-American man with long black hair and hazel eyes

    Gabriel Moreno

    Multidisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Gabriel Moreno is an artist working in sculpture and drawing. Recent work has explored the role of negativity in sculpture’s history: the resonance of removal, erasure, reduction, absence, invisibility, and openness. Taking root in specific industrial histories spanning the American Midwest …

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    Keeley "KYZ" Morris

    Dancer, Choreographer, Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Keeley “KYZ” Morris is a dancer, choreographer, actress, and teacher. With more than 15 years of experience, Keeley has worked professionally as a SAG performer and with local creatives aiming to enrich Chicago communities. In recent years, Keeley has shifted …

  • Black woman with curly brown hair

    Whitney Morrison

    Classical Singer Make a Wave Artist

    Rising star Whitney Morrison has earned praise for her “big, gleaming soprano” (Chicago Classical Review) and “vocally sumptuous” performances (Chicago Tribune). A Chicago native and recent alum of the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of …

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    Jessica Mueller

    Interdisciplinary Artist & Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Jessica Mueller is a faculty member in the Design Department at the American Academy of Art. Since 2004, she has been a teaching artist with Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), working in Chicago Public Schools. Jessica holds an MFA …

  • Indian woman with wavy black hair and brown eyes

    Sophiyaa Nayar

    Theatre Director, Writer, Filmmaker Make a Wave Artist

    Sophiyaa Nayar is from New Delhi, India. She creates interdisciplinary and genre-bending work that places (im)immigrants and BIPOC people at the center of the narrative. Most recently, she directed Shakuntala by Lavina Jadhwani (Future Labs, Goodman Theatre). She is a …

  • Black woman with smiling brown eyes, wearing a blue headwrap with face adorned with a gentle curving line of white dots around her eyes

    Ugochi Nwaogwugwu

    Singer, Songwriter, Poet, Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Ugochi Nwaogwugwu is a multidisciplinary creative, a professional poet and writer, internationally renowned musician, and poetry instructor and founder of Spirit Speaks, Inc. Ugochi has produced, written, and co-arranged three album projects: African Buttafly, A.S.E., and Love Shot …

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    Amanda Ortiz

    Writer, Musician, Vocalist Make a Wave Artist

    Amanda Ortiz (A.O) is a single mother, aspiring writer, musician, and shower vocalist by hobby. Her love for art and music began at a very young age as she grew up watching her frontman father own every stage he walked …

  • Black man with black hair and brown eyes

    Sherwin Ovid

    Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Sherwin Ovid is a visual artist born in Trinidad who earned his Bachelor of Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was a Lincoln Fellow in 2013 at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) where he …

  • Black man smiles, wearing a yellow hoodie and denim jacket

    Sean James William Parris

    Actor & Teacher Make a Wave Artist

    Sean James William Parris is an actor, writer, and teacher. He was born in Los Angeles and raised in Miami and Georgia.  He has worked with Free Street Theatre as a vocal coach and co-directed his first show there …

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    Ron OJ Parson

    Actor & Director Make a Wave Artist

    Ron OJ Parson is an actor and director originally from Buffalo, New York and a graduate of the University of Michigan’s professional theater program. He is a resident artist at Court Theatre and former co-founder and artistic director of Onyx …

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    Pegah Pasalar

    Filmmaker & Interdisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Pegah Pasalar is an Iranian interdisciplinary artist and filmmaker currently based in Chicago. Pasalar’s auto-ethnographic practice explores motifs such as identity convulsion, cultural memory, fragmentation, and displacement. Her work manifests primarily in film and video, branching into a hybridization of …

  • A young white second-grader with an open smile, wispy hair, and a peter pan collar (catholic school uniform)

    Mary Patten

    Visual, Video Artist, Writer Make a Wave Artist

    Mary Patten is a visual artist, video-maker, writer, educator, and long-time political activist. For years, Patten has led or participated in many public collaborations including Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) and Feel Tank Chicago to reclaim a “utopia of the …

  • Black woman

    Felicia Patton

    Vocalist, Teaching Artist, Music Minister, Guitarist Make a Wave Artist

    Felicia Patton has been singing in gospel choirs for most of her life. After high school, she became a featured local soloist in the Chicago area, obtaining two graduate degrees from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Felicia’s voice has taken her around the …

  • Latinx man with curly brown hair and brown eyes

    Javier Payano

    Ukulele, Guitar, and Diverse Learners Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Javier Payano teaches guitar and music therapy for diverse learners and ukulele and songwriting at Lane Tech College Prep High School. He is the co-founder of the YOURS Orchestra Project, a youth orchestra outreach program. He received a Bachelor of …

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    Regina Perry-Carr

    Dancer, Choreographer, Director, Curator, Producer Make a Wave Artist

    Regina Perry-Carr is the Artistic Director of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago, the notable, historic forty-nine-year-old organization. A native of Chicago, Perry-Carr is credited with being a wife, mother, dancer, choreographer, director, curator, and producer. She has spent more …

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    Marvin Quijada

    Graphic Designer & Mime Make a Wave Artist

    Marvin Quijada (a.k.a. Silent Marvin) is an electronic music producer/composer, DJ, theatrical actor, and an award-winning clown/mime. His most recent music composition credit is Kid Prince & Pablo, which was performed at The Kennedy Center in 2019. He also forms …

  • A twinkly brown-eyed African American man with short, curly black hair, a mustache and a beautiful grin.

    Avreeayl Ra

    Creative Being Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Award

    Avreeayl Ra Amen (he/him), born Arthur L. O’Neil in Chicago on May 21, 1947, has become a local legend in the rich, progressive Chicago avant-garde jazz scene, with a career spanning more than half a century. John Kelman of …

  • Indian American woman with short black hair and black eyes

    Devika Ranjan

    Interdisciplinary Ethnographer, Writer, Theater Maker Make a Wake Artist

    Devika Ranjan is a theater maker, ethnographer, and educator who tells stories about migration through performance, research, and advocacy. Born in Nashik, Maharashtra and raised all over the United States, Devika made her first forays on stage with jugalbandis, entwined …

  • woman with curly brown hair and brown eyes

    Jacinda Ratcliffe

    Dancer, Actor, Choreographer Make a Wave Artist

    Jacinda Ratcliffe is a dancer, actor, and choreographer who has been working in Chicago since graduating from Northwestern University. She is a company dancer with Winifred Haun & Dancers as well as an ensemble member with Lucky Plush Productions, where she …

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    Sully Ratke

    Theater Designer, Writer, Composer Make a Wave Artist

    Sully Ratke is a theater maker and an artistic associate of Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago and The Actors Gymnasium in Evanston. She has worked with various local theaters including Steppenwolf Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Lookingglass, The Irish …

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    Isaiah Robinson

    Vocalist, Musician, Teaching Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Isaiah Robinson has performed as a vocalist with the Barrett sisters, Darius Brooks, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Rascal Flatts, Kim Stratton, Jonita Lattimore, Twinkie Clark Terrell, Mavis Staples, Janis Siegel, Chaka Khan, Yo-Yo Ma, Chance the Rapper, Angela Davis, Candy …

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    Joel M. Rodriguez

    Vocalist & Actor Make a Wave Artist

    Joel M. Rodriguez is a singer and actor, born and raised in Chicago. After growing up with a passion for music and the arts, he discovered his love for the stage at Northside College Prep during his sophomore year production …

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    Kara Roseborough

    Dancer, Choreographer, Educator, Writer Make a Wave Artist

    Kara Roseborough is a multi-disciplinary dance artist based in Evanston. She is an alumna of the Chicago Academy for the Arts and the University of Utah, from which she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English. Roseborough is currently the …

  • Person with long dark brown locs with salt and pepper gray on the sides and brown eyes

    Cristal J. Sabbagh

    Visual and Multidisciplinary Performing Artist and Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Cristal Sabbagh’s performance practice, rooted in improvisation and Butoh, walks a line between the everyday, the divine, the personal, and the political. In embodying in her art transformational memories while simultaneously celebrating pop culture and the experimental, she challenges power structures …

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    Moises Salazar Tlatenchi

    Interdisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Moises Salazar Tlatenchi is a non-binary, multidisciplinary artist based in Chicago. Being a first-generation Mexican American has cemented a conflict within their political identity, which is the conceptual focus of their practice. Whether addressing queer or immigrant bodies, their work …

  • Image of Abbas on a blue background.

    Omer Abbas Salem

    Actor & Playwright SIF Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation Awardee in honor of Samuel G. Roberson Jr.

    Omer Abbas Salem (he/they) is an actor and playwright. As an actor, they've worked at Roundabout Theatre, Atlantic Theatre, St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Goodman Theatre, Steep Theatre, Jackalope Theatre, Silk Road Rising, First Floor Theatre, …

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    Nancy Sánchez

    Transdisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Nancy Sánchez is an artist that exists in multiple dimensions within this world. Ancestral practices and ceremonies have guided her artmaking. She creates objects that live in between spaces of being art objects, sacred objects, and sacred spaces. She uses …

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    Joey J. Saye

    Blues Artist & Singer-Songwriter Make a Wave Artist

    Joey J. Saye is a Blues artist and singer/songwriter. Born to a Liberian family, he grew up in Aurora, Illinois and was always exposed to many musical styles ranging from West African to American country music. He was always attracted …

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    Joanie Schultz

    Arts Leader, Mentor, Stage Director, Teacher Make a Wave Artist

    Joanie Schultz is a stage director, arts leader, and teacher. Her work has been seen throughout Chicago and regional theaters across the country. She has served as Artistic Director at WaterTower Theatre in Texas and as Associate Artistic Producer at …

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    John Simmons

    DJ, Music Producer, Teacher, Promoter Make a Wave Artist

    John Simmons is a veteran DJ with almost thirty years on the decks. Growing up with a foundation in soul, jazz, funk, and golden-era hip-hop, John caught on to House music in the early 1990s and found himself immersed in …

  • Bald man with brown eyes

    Arif Smith

    Musician, Artist, Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Arif Smith is a multidisciplinary artist and educator. His performance- and video-based work centers on diasporic citizenship and African-rooted performance practices, exploring Blackness, marronage, and intertextuality. Smith was a 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence at the University of Chicago's Arts + Public Life …

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    Kia Smith

    Choreographer, Director, Educator, Organizer Make a Wave Artist

    A Chicago native, Kia Smith trained intensely on scholarship at The Hyde Park School of Dance, The Joel Hall Dance Center, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, and StoryCatchers Theatre, and received scholarships to attend the American Dance Festival in 2008 and …

  • Black and white image of a woman with short cropped hair smiling gently at the camera

    Diana Solís

    Visual Artist & Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Diana Solís is a Mexican-born visual artist, photographer, and educator whose work includes photography, painting, illustration, printmaking, comics, public murals, and installation. She is inspired by Mexican and Chicano culture, memory, cautionary tales, oral and personal histories, queer identities, and narratives. …

  • The photo shows Marya Spont-Lemus from the chest up and smiling slightly. Marya, a white person, is wearing pink glasses and a yellow sweater and has an asymmetrical haircut. She appears against a brick background. Photo by Gaby FeBland.

    Marya Spont-Lemus

    Writer, Interdisciplinary Artist, Informal Educator Make a Wave Artist

    Marya Spont-Lemus (she/they) writes fiction and personal narratives, critically re-makes objects, and educates/facilitates/collaborates, often in public spaces. Questions guiding Marya’s work across these realms include: How does experience impact interpretation? How do personal choices, structural forces, and chance occurrences interact …

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    Rahila Naomi Stadem Coats

    Dancer, Choreographer, Teaching Artist, Movement Collaborator Make a Wave Artist

    Rahila Naomi Stadem Coats is a mixed Black and White dancer, choreographer, administrator, and teaching artist. Her artistic exploration ranges from working with people from varying backgrounds and assisting them to mold a performance that shares their story or composing …

  • Woman with curly dark hair and brown eyes

    Anna Steinhoff

    Cellist & Viola Da Gamba Player Make a Wave Artist

    Anna Steinhoff is a musician specializing in baroque cello and viola da gamba. She is a member of Third Coast Baroque, Haymarket Opera Company, Bella Voce Sinfonia, and Second City Musick, and is principal cellist with the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra. …

  • Black man with black hair and brown eyes

    Sulyiman Stokes

    Interdisciplinary Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Sulyiman is a dynamic interdisciplinary artist hailing from Chicago’s South Side. While he is self-taught in many aspects of his artistry, Sulyiman’s introduction to music as a multidimensional medium for expression came early and has continued to shape much of …

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    Mai Sugimoto

    Saxophonist, Improviser, Composer Make a Wave Artist

    Mai Sugimoto is a saxophonist, composer, and active member of Chicago’s jazz and improvisational music scene. “A compelling performer” with “dry-champagne tone and lyrical lines” (Chicago Tribune), Sugimoto draws inspiration from her upbringing in Japan and her roots …

  • Latinx woman with dark brown eyes

    Gloria "Gloe" Talamantes

    Arts Educator, Community & Public Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Gloria “Gloe” Talamantes is a Mexican American graffiti artist, writer, educator, and cultural worker from Chicago. With more than 20 years of experience in the arts, Gloe led Chicago's first all-women graffiti mural with the support of the Hip-Hop collective, …

  • Asian American person with black hair, glasses, and a big smile

    Moki Tantoco

    Educator, Artist, Administrator Make a Wave Artist

    Moki Tantoco (they) is an educator and artist creating curriculum and programming exploring socially engaged art practices through interdisciplinary mediums such as bookbinding, writing, performance, and installation. Moki has more than a decade of experience as a museum administrator and …

  • White woman with short brown hair and brown eyes

    Mary Tilden

    Theatre Artist, Filmmaker, Actor, Director, Writer Make a Wave Artist

    Mary Tilden is a queer, Southern-born writer, director, actor, producer, and educator. Past work as an actor includes The Wolves at Goodman Theatre, which won a 2018 Jeff Award for Best Ensemble. She has developed new work with The Kennedy …

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    Brenda Torres-Figueroa

    Interdisciplinary Artist, Arts Educator, Curator Make a Wave Artist

    Brenda Torres-Figueroa is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and art educator, born and raised in Puerto Rico, and working mainly in performance art, installations, and public art. In 2000 she graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and soon after …

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    Lan Tuazon

    Sculpture Make a Wave Artist

    Lan Tuazon is a visual artist and Associate Professor of Sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lan has exhibited internationally at the Neue Galerie in the Imperial Palace of Austria, Bucharest Biennale 4, the WKV Kunstverein …

  • Mexican-American woman with brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a blue jean button down shirt sitting in her studio

    Tamara Becerra Valdez

    Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Born and raised in South Texas, Tamara Becerra Valdez is an artist who works at the intersection of archives, oral histories, material studies, and ecology. Tamara's sculptures and relief works require slow, meticulous processes of hand fabrication and technique. She …

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    Jim Vendiola

    Director, Filmmaker, Writer Make a Wave Artist

    Jim Vendiola is an award-winning writer/director, development executive, and three-time Newcity magazine “Film 50” honoree. His work has been described as “highly stylized and casually transgressive,” and frequently explores ideas of heartache, longing, liminality, eros, and pathos. As a Filipino-American …

  • Queer Cuban-American woman with short brown hair and brown eyes

    Georgette Verdin

    Theater Director Make a Wave Artist

    Georgette Verdin is a Cuban American freelance director, theater and speech educator, arts integration specialist, and the Managing Artistic Director of the award-winning Interrobang Theatre Project. Recent directing credits include This Wide Night (Chicago premiere, Chloë Moss), Tribes (Nina Raine), Jeff …

  • White Blonde haired woman with brown eyes

    Ava Wanbli

    New Media Performance Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Ava Wanbli is a new media performance artist who uses video, performance, 3D scanning, sculpture, and game engines to reconstruct dynamics of spectacle and intimacy through eroticized mediation of the body. In ritualized actions, Ava addresses consumption and the process …

  • Black/African American person

    Jalen Whitner

    Collage and Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Shytheartist, also known as Jalen Whitner, is a collage and visual artist. He graduated in 2017 from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a BFA in Studio Art. He is currently the Creative Director of The Suga Project Foundation …

  • Black man with curly black-ish hair, brown eyes, and a Covid beard

    Arthur Wright

    Intuitive Artist Inspired by Music Make a Wave Artist

    Arthur Wright, a native of Chicago, has been creating fine art in the city for the past two decades. Previously known for his upcycled Styrofoam sculptures, his work took a decided turn in 2016 when he became an Inaugural Fellow …

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    Sandie (Chun-shan) Yi

    Teaching & Fiber Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Sandie (Chun-shan) Yi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art Therapy and Counseling and Program Director of the Disability Culture Activism Lab (DCAL) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She has a Master of …

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    Visual Artist Make a Wave Artist

    Zespo is a visual artist living and working in the Chicagoland area. He received his training in painting from the American Academy of Art followed by an MFA from the University of Chicago in 2018. Over this period, he has …

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