Woodlawn Arts Academy to feature three traveling exhibits from Family Diversity Projects

Woodlawn Arts Academy logo.

STERLING — Woodlawn Arts Academy’s summer art exhibit featuring three traveling exhibits through Family Diversity Projects opens Friday, May 17.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday at Woodlawn Arts Academy, 3807 Woodlawn Road, Sterling. Artwork will remain on display through Wednesday, Aug. 7.

It is free and open to the public during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays.

The three traveling exhibits are “Authentic Selves,” “Nothing to Hide” and “Building Bridges.”

“Authentic Selves: Celebrating Trans and Nonbinary People and Their Families” explores the many aspects of gender identity and variance by sharing these stories.

Designed to prevent bullying and increase empathy, “Authentic Selves” aims to help make the world safer for all people. The exhibit is hosted by PFLAG Sauk Valley.

“Nothing to Hide: Mental Illness in the Family” is a photo-text exhibit that presents families whose lives are affected by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, major depression, anxiety disorders and other brain disorders. These accounts demonstrate strength, courage, integrity and accomplishment in the face of adversity and stigma, according to a news release. It is hosted by NAMI Sauk Area.

“Building Bridges: Portraits of Immigrants and Refugees” includes photographs and interviews with people who have come to the U.S. as immigrants or refugees from all over the world. The exhibit seeks to challenge myths and stereotypes about immigrants and refugees as a way to prevent bullying and hatred toward a marginalized group of people. The exhibit is hosted by YWCA of the Sauk Valley.

Family Diversity Projects is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping eliminate prejudice, stereotyping, bullying and harassment of people who are discriminated against because of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, national origin, disabilities, religion and mental illness. The organization tells the stories of real people presented in award-winning traveling photo-text exhibits.

Woodlawn Arts Academy is a partner agency of United Way of Whiteside and Lee counties, and financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Programs are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

During the year, the academy presents three other exhibits. The Juried Art Exhibit, which opens Aug. 23, features fine art and photography from adult exhibitors, and artwork of all types from students in grades kindergarten through 12. It is cohosted by Sauk Valley Community College.

Applications are being accepted through July 15 and can be downloaded at WoodlawnArtsAcademy.com or in the academy’s main office.

A winter exhibit opens in early December, and the annual Student-Teacher Art Exhibit, featuring artwork by area students and their teachers, opens in February.

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Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner reports on Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties for Shaw Media out of the Dixon office. Previously, she worked for the Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.