Office + Programs Coordinator
President of the Art + Activism student organization
Demi graduated from Kaneland High School, in Maple Park Illinois, in 2012, and is currently attending Columbia College Chicago earning her BA in Art and Design. Growing up on a farm in the rural suburbs has given Demi a unique take on her new urban lifestyle. Her background is in graphic design and she is a member of the National Technical Honors Society. Since October 2012, Demi has been an office assistant and a graphic illustrator for the Fresh Frances greeting card company. She works in other mediums and on other freelance projects as well. Over the next few years, Demi plans to strengthen her skills in her favorite hobby, hula hooping, as well as seeking further education in Stage Makeup. In addition to her arts practice, she is very involved with 4-H and the Suicide Prevention Center in Batavia.
Demi says that, “Being involved in the art world as well as with my community is a key factor for becoming a part of Art + Activism. All my life I’ve been captivated by art and how it can be a catalyst in our environment. I find beauty in the fact that one’s inspiration can trigger social movements and cause motivational changes over time. I’m honored to apply the creative skills I have to make change in the world as other artists have before me.”
Rian Lussier is an Ohio transplant. She began her studies at Columbia College Chicago in 2010, studying Art History and Literature. Her focus is in the relationship of visual culture to colloquial rhetoric and its manifestations in social thought. Rian’s senior thesis will explore the influence of political ideology upon the interpretations of geographic spaces as structurally defined and represented by early map makers in America. She is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and is deeply involved with the Honors program at Columbia. During her time in Chicago, Rian’s writing has been featured in a variety of local publications. She has also contributed as an interviewer and researcher to the oral history projects of the National Veterans Art Museum and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Rian is elated to begin working with Art + Activism’s PUSH Podcast. As an interviewer, she is looking forward to contributing dialogue with Chicago artists on their methods to utilize their practices to create positive change and inspire curiosity. Rian is particularly interested in artists who engage with messages of compassion and empathy. With PUSH, she hopes to help architect a platform for listening and connecting with one another.
Rian enjoys spending time with loved ones, hiking, gardening, traveling, reading and high-ropes rappelling. She is currently pursuing her yoga teacher certification.
Classroom Liaison + Production Assistant
Bailey moved from her hometown of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin to attend Columbia College Chicago in 2010. She is a Cultural Studies major who creates live performances that combine music, dance, drama and visual arts with messages of hope.
Bailey works with students and professional artists of all ages through Live Art, the community performance program that she founded in 2012. Live Art was created to celebrate young artists who are often overlooked because of the media’s tendency to focus on the negative. By shining the spotlight on these artists, Bailey hopes to change the dialogue around American youth while empowering this generation. She has also taught dance and theater at the University of Chicago's Laboratory School, Scientists For Tomorrow, Chippewa Falls High School, After School Matters, sunSHINEdays, and the Eau Claire School of Dance. She is also enjoying her time as the Artistic/Operations intern at the Lyric Opera.
One of Bailey’s favorite things to do in Chicago is attend musicals, operas, and movies. She is a volunteer usher for several theaters throughout the city with The Saints ushering core. As a nanny she also enjoys arts and crafts, eating snacks, and singing lullabies.
Community Engagement Liaison
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Jillian graduated Cum Laude from Loyola University Chicago in 2010, receiving a B.A. in Studio Art: Drawing and Painting as well as a B.A. in Visual Communications. Currently, she is in her third year of the MFA Interdisciplinary Arts: Book + Paper program at Columbia College Chicago. Working primarily in hand papermaking, she serves as Adjunct Faculty for the Interdisciplinary Arts Department.
As an Art + Activism graduate assistant, Jillian is helping to facilitate connections within the Columbia community as well as with local Chicagoans to spark a dialogue on art activism. Current collaborations include the Papermaker's Garden at the Center for Book and Paper Arts and the LGBTQ Office of Culture and Community's Intergenerational Queer Dialogue Project.
Originally from Taichung, Taiwan R.O.C, Ting immigrated to the states in 2007, making his way to Chicago from the west coast in 2010 to attend Columbia College Chicago and eat hot dogs. He is currently a senior earning his BA in Photojournalism.
Influenced by American contemporary painter Edward Hopper and photographer Robert Frank, Ting is fascinated with the beauty of the rural parts of North America, the scene of remnants from the great westward expansion, and the true sprit of the American Dream.
Ting freelances across the midwest, covering everything from sports like Chicago Bulls to protests during the 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, and shooting the occasional commercial assignment. He interned with the Chicago Sun Times before they cut all their staff photojournalists, being the last photo intern at the Sun Times who ever felt the love and embrace from the legendary Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist, John H. White
In his downtime, he wears his New York Yankees baseball cap while running around Chicago with arms full of cameras and a bottle of Dr. Pepper.
Aaron Van Pelt
PUSH Audio Engineer
Aaron is a Kansas City, Missouri native who made his way to Chicago in the fall of 2010 to begin his studies at Columbia College Chicago. He is majoring in Television: Writing and Producing with a minor in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management.
In Chicago, Aaron has produced several short films and documentary style television content while participating in the television department's learning community. This program offered the introductory courses at an expedited pace. He has worked on numerous freelance shoots with companies such as CBS, The Oprah Winfrey Network, Sears, Kenmore, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Aaron currently works as a receptionist in Columbia's television administration office.
In his free time, Aaron enjoys exploring the city on his longboard, grilling for friends, traveling, and watching hours of television. He would one day like to work as a producer creating content for networks such as the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or the Travel Channel.
VOLUNTEERS:Julia Dobbs, Photography
Vice-president of the Art + Activism student organization
Bred under the burden of the Chicago suburbs, Julia transferred to Columbia as a junior to study photography with a minor in education. A true photojournalist, she wants to be shooting film (rather than digital) on safari in Africa but for now is settling for photographing in the urban Chicago environment.