Artists

  • Ahmed Aldawdi

    Ahmed Aldawdi was born in Kurdistan, Iraq, into a creative family. His creativity was nourished from a young age by education from an academically- trained artist. This early spark for the visual arts led him to pursue his own self-education in the arts. He worked as a professional painter and calligrapher in his home country. He also served in the military there and became an interpreter for the U.S. Army forces in Iraq. Due to this work, his life was at great risk, so he sought refuge in the United States. He was able to come to the U.S., along with his wife and three sons. He came to the Hart Gallery through Bridge Refugee Services, here in Chattanooga. As an artist, he works meticulously with oil colors, creating his own color charts for color mixing. He is interested in Surrealism, but also loves to practice Realism. Despite having some physical limitations, he continues to pursue his art, and considers it to be a lifelong learning process. He says that “art is in my soul” and he will always come back to it.

  • Allen Contis

    Allen Contis was born in 1974 in Florida. A self-taught artist and tattoo artist, he has the vision to use his art to show the resilience of the human spirit- “no matter what life throws your way, you can overcome any tragedy.” He is a survivor of childhood abuse and has struggled to cope with the trauma of that abuse. As a young adult, Allen turned to drugs to dull the emotional pain that “drove me to jails, institutions, and very close to death.” Stuck in Chattanooga,broke, homeless, and “spiritually dead,” Allen received the wake up call from his son who continues to be his inspiration for recovery. Allen aspires to use his art and his school of hard knocks knowledge to help at-risk youth.
  • Amy Belk

     Amy Belk attributes her artistic influence to her grandmother, who gave her a scrap box that she, Amy, and Amy’s mother kept full of “tidbits” and treasures with which to create. Her grandmother would supply her with “real” art materials and encouraged her free expression on these special summer visits during her childhood. After struggling for many years with physical and psychological issues, Amy renewed her former passion for making art. She has developed a style that combines collage technique with sculptural use of vintage, found objects. She finds that using the odds and ends helps her to cope with her fragmented emotions. She is also proficient in graphic arts and is always challenging herself in her approaches to art, exploring all sorts of other media.

     

     

  • Angel Pellegrino

     

    Angel Pellegrino is a native Chattanoogan, and returned to the area over a year ago, leaving behind an abusive relationship. She has always loved art and has been creating since she was very young. She uses art to combat her struggles with Bi Polar Disorder, social anxiety, and Schizoid personality. She is drawn to the world of fantasy, being influenced by mythology and even the show Supernatural. Her influences often show up in her artwork, and include such symbols as birds, fish and skulls. She likes to work in acrylic paint and in digital programs. She also happily attends Scenic City Church. She is excited to donate some of the proceeds from her artwork sales to McKamey Animal Center as well as #OnlyLove, which is an anti-bullying campaign.

  • Barbara Brander

    Barbara “Bob” Brander was born and raised in Chattanooga. After a divorce, she found herself experiencing struggle and poverty, which continues to plague her to this day. When a friend introduced her to art, it transformed her life by giving her an outlet through which she could express herself. Her charcoal renditions are unique and visually stunning, which express her affinity for the 1920’s Parisian scene. In 2014 Barbara suffered a stroke but has recently begun drawing again.

     

  • Benjamin Brown

    Benjamin C. Brown was raised in Chattanooga, TN. He has struggled with mental health issues since childhood, and is also a recovering addict, who used drugs to self-medicate through his struggles. Fortunately, he has made art as long as he can remember, and now focuses on creating to help him cope. Although he is currently homeless and struggling to get back on his feet, he is working and continues making and selling his art through H*Art Gallery. In his words, “Art helps me see and connect with my soul.”

     

     

  • Bill Sera

    Bill Sera is a Florida native, who now resides in Chattanooga, TN. He came to H*Art Gallery through Aim Center’s Studio Program. He is a survivor of early childhood abuse, who thankfully had family who intervened at 5 years old. He is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and struggles with other mental health issues relating to this early trauma, but art helps him to deal with his struggles. In his words, he “uses art as a cathartic way of telling his story.” As a big fan of film, he sees himself as viewing art like a director who is making a movie. He is a big fan of architecture and loves to focus on it in his paintings. He uses the bright, happy colors of Miami Beach architecture to represent his lighter, playful side, and collage to reflect his darker moods. If Bill “hits it big” with his art, he would love to one day own his own art studio and gallery.

  • Cynthia Barber

    Cynthia Ann Barber was born in Jacksonville, Florida but has lived in Fort Oglethorpe for the last twenty years. She is coping with schizophrenia, a developmental disability, and is a cancer survivor- having been in remission since 2012. Cynthia sometimes experiences moments of depression during hard times in her life. When she begins to feel depressed she turns to art to lift herself up. She has been drawing for forty years and art is a big part of her life. For as long as she can remember she has always wanted to be an artist.
  • Darron DeSantis

  • David Hudson

    David Hudson has always loved art. When he was a student at Brainerd High he won several art competitions. He was homeless when he got in a fight that left him disabled on his left side and makes it difficult for him to speak. Luckily he can “speak” through art. His drawings and paintings are articulate expressions of his unique vision.

  • De Michael McGee

    De Michael McGee was born into a single home in Chattanooga in 1978 and alternated between parents. He has a history of mental health issues that were not understood in his childhood and adolescence. He served a determined sentence as an adolescent in the Department of Youth Detention; and he feels strongly about advocating for youth that end up in the juvenile justice system rather than receiving the mental health assistance they may need. De Michael was later accurately diagnosed with Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar Disorder. De Michael also struggles with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis in his hand and both knees. He has been a member of AIM Center since Friday the 13th 2013 and discovered his artistic talent in their Integrated Arts Program. De Michael strives to be a leader to at risk youth in the Chattanooga community and is determined to live his life with integrity.

     

  • Deborah Kirby

    Deborah Kirby grew up in Texas, but embraced a gypsy existence after college. Although she’s had different jobs in different cities, she’s always been involved in the arts. She’s been a dancer (eons ago), singer, photographer, actress (for over thirty years), director and teacher. Teaching is what brought her to this area from Washington, DC. Her love of the visual arts developed after she needed to stop teaching due to the progression of her multiple sclerosis. She has experimented with different media from colored pencils and pens to markers, watercolor, and acrylic paints. She is particularly fascinated with using textures in her predominantly- abstract artwork. She credits her inspiration to the Lord and His multi-formed creation, and she is profoundly grateful to the Hart Gallery for allowing her art to be seen outside of her home. 

     

  • Dennis Williams

    Dennis Williams was born in Chattanooga, TN. where he currently resides. He is perhaps better known as “The Hat Man,” because he sports unique and whimsical hats that he changes out daily. Dennis’ story is nothing short of miraculous. He was in a very serious car accident when he was 9 years old, which left him with brain injury and nerve and growth damage to the left side of his body. He was in a twenty-eight-day coma, during which, he was resuscitated three times! After a long recovery, he received intensive rehabilitation to learn to walk and speak again. He was primarily homebound but was eventually able to finish elementary school and graduate from Brainerd High School. He had trouble with employment because of his limited mobility but was determined to persevere and even went through special vocational rehabilitation. He began to volunteer at a nursing home and after learning about his struggles Goodwill Industries sought him out for employment. He became an important spokesperson for Goodwill, doing speaking engagements and appearing in their advertisements. He is now celebrating 35 years of employment through Goodwill! He heard about H*Art Gallery through a co-worker and fellow H*Art artist. He says, “H*Art makes me see that I can do things that I didn’t know I could do…I love the way it makes me feel just coming here…”

  • Edna Milian

     Edna Milian is originally from Puerto Rico and was in mainland USA from 1981 (in Chattanooga since 2010), until about a year and a half ago when she returned to Puerto Rico to care for her elderly parents and disabled brother. She is a registered nurse but after 2010 became disabled and no longer works in the medical field. She has been a lifelong caregiver, helping to raise and support several foster children and also works as a private caregiver. She is passionate about social justice issues, and does volunteer work to help women and children, most recently with victims of human trafficking. She enjoys hiking, Bible study, cooking, and traveling. She finds painting to be very relaxing and notes that it helps her to express herself through colors, forms, and shapes. She finds herself too busy to create art these days, but says that she loves to look at art and is always logging ideas to hopefully use later when her life allows.

  • Ellen Zahorec

     Ellen Zahorec was raised in the Catholic faith in Ohio. She received her BFA and MFA, and maintained a home, studio, and gallery. After a personal tragedy, where her home and creative spaces were lost, Ellen began to suffer from severe depression and psychosis. Until her sister and caregiver, Debbie’s death in 2015 she came to H*Art Gallery regularly on Wednesdays and Thursdays where she used her art to work through her anxiety. Her design motifs have become a pathway to quieting depressive and racing thoughts. Every line, every dot represents one more step in Ms. Zahorec’s journey of faith and perseverance. She now resides in Florida under the care of her nephew, William.

  • Erica Birch

     Erica Birch came to H*Art Gallery through Partnership for Children & Families. She is a survivor of physical abuse and emotional trauma, from a person who even tried to rob her of her creative outlets. “He took what I loved and what brought me joy and destroyed it…” However, she chooses to focus on the light within herself to move forward. Her words say it best, “Despite all that has happened, I choose not to focus on the ugly. Instead, I choose to take all that has been broken, and taken from me, and I have decided to sculpt a new soul journey. I choose to rise from the ashes. I choose to create not just new creative writing and paintings, but I am choosing to take a new path back into the healing light of my loves, and artistic passions. I choose to flourish. Thank you for supporting my journey.”

     

  • George Monds

    George Monds was born and raised in Chattanooga. He first became interested in drawing after he saw a portrait his mother drew of his grandmother. George is a recovering alcoholic and has been homeless on and off for the past 20 years. At various times, he has been able to move into low-income housing and has begun putting some structure back into his life, in part with help from his "Hart family." George has spent a few Christmas Seasons as a bell ringer with the Salvation Army. He has a heart for children, and donates 10% to St. Jude's Children's hospital. George hopes that selling his artwork will help him reach his goal of becoming self-sufficient one day.

     

  • Ginger Langston

    Ginger Langston was born in Savannah, GA but has been a Chattanooga resident for approximately twenty years. She has always been interested in art, and been making creative work since childhood. Artistic talent runs in her family and has been her “anchor” for coping with difficult times. She comes to H*Art Gallery through Partnership as a result of a series of unfortunate personal circumstances. She is trying to get back onto her feet and be more self-sufficient. Her art allows her a means to express emotions that are otherwise difficult to express. She loves to work with oils and is excited to be showing and selling her lovely paintings at H*Art.

     

  • H*Art Gallery

  • Haint (aka Wayne Bradley)

  • HART GALLERY

  • Hope

    “Hope” I’ve always pushed my body to the limit, whether it was climbing in Tennessee, surfing at the beach, snowboarding in the mountains, or competing in athletics. Now that I’m a disabled veteran of the USAF, my disability greatly impacts my physical mobility, and my art has stepped up to fill the void.  

    I intentionally use boards, paint, and materials that I find in abandoned, trashed urban areas. It cleans up the spaces, helps minimize my footprint, and brings the energy of where those items have been to my work. The splatter layers are typically created through popping (exploding) 50-100 paint cans that were left outside by other graffiti artists. I use those colors and textures as a jumping off point, and often work in personal themes by drawing and painting on top of and within those layers.

     

     

     

     

  • James Edger

    James Edger (Jay Dee Baby) is a native of Huntsville, AL. His education ended in the 6th grade when he joined his father as a commercial and residential painter. He moved to Chattanooga in 2011 living at the Chattanooga Rescue Mission for a number of years, before being relocated into low-income housing. He receives counseling to assist him in understanding his divorce and past. Making art at H*Art Gallery and H*Art Community classes bring him joy and help to “see him through” the hard times. He earns extra money through our H*Artworks program, as chief brick maker for our memorial garden, (among other jobs at H*Art) which enables him to pay for housing and other living expenses.

  • Jasen Boston

    Jasen Boston was born in Tampa, Florida. As a child, he had always been somewhat of a troublemaker but not by choice. In his early years, he tended to skip school a lot and got into mischief with friends. His parents decided he needed something to keep him out of trouble so they bought him a sketchbook and a dog and told him they were his new friends. At 13 years old, Jasen began living an introverted yet artistic life. While discovering a new passion in art he found a new way of expressing himself and likes to leave hidden meanings and symbols in his work, which aren’t apparent right away. Jasen taught four weekly classes for H*Art to pay for part of his tuition and became a chef at The Chattanoogan and married in August 2015. He continues to work in food service. We are so proud of all of Jasen’s successes.

     

     

  • Jason Bargy

    Jason Bargy was born in Tucson, Arizona and currently lives in Chattanooga. He graduated from Chattanooga State with an Associates Degree in Applied Science and a diploma in Computer Operations Technology in 2010. He was diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome and has struggled with anxiety all of his life. He has a caring heart, a comedic sense of humor, and a strong desire to succeed. He has volunteered at the Cleveland State Law Enforcement Academy and strives to be a strong community role model. His love of color and attention to detail has helped him to explore art, while having a calming effect on his anxiety. Jason has always strived to think “outside the box” and meet new challenges. He recently became employed with the Hemp House and hopes to one day live independently. He has exhibited his art at the Adult Autism Symposium here in Chattanooga. He recently joined the H*Art Gallery and says that it has helped him to expand his creative mind and to up his expectations of himself. He sees it as a “safe place that helps him to go beyond his comfort zone.”

  • Jennifer Davis

    Jennifer Davis is a survivor of abuse and abandonment, in addition to being a cancer survivor. She receives support services from Johnson Mental Health, which is the connection that eventually led her to H*Art Gallery. The art-making process brings her overactive mind to a relaxed state and relieves the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Jennifer began to explore art more than twenty years ago. Debilitating depression over the last several years interfered with her creative drive; however, Jennifer is now feeling optimistic about her future as an artist. She has a great therapist and also manages her symptoms with medication, and receives great emotional support from her son. She loves children and has a special relationship with her two great-nephews. Art is her greatest outlet and passion, and she is always ready to try new techniques and “mix it up.” Her goal is to have her own place and to become self-sufficient.

  • Jesse Crick

    Jesse Crick started making art as a child in the Republic of Georgia. He recalls that the first images that he was painting were of houses. When he first moved to the United States, he drew Queen Amidala, a character from Star Wars. He now likes to create his own characters. He says that his life changed when he realized his creative gift. He notes that the art that he creates comes from the visions he sees when he sits down to begin drawing or painting. He came to Hart Gallery through the AIM Center, and has chosen to designate 10% of his sales back to their art program. In his words, “I became obedient to the brush, that is, my brush takes me and guides me around the world. I do my best when I follow my brush as it speaks to me. I do what I need to do to finish the painting.”

  • Jessica Johnson

    Jessica Johnson is a self-taught artist. She has been deaf since birth and communicates through American Sign Language. She has had a love of art for as long as she can remember and has found her voice through creating. She wants to learn more and share her passion with others through example and teaching. She hopes her work makes others happy and speaks to them as it does to her.

  • John Coniglio

    John Coniglio is a Chattanooga area artist who works in photography and multimedia while coping with CIDP, a neuro-muscular disability that makes walking difficult and writing nearly impossible. Subjects of his work range from daily life to the world of nature and the passing railroad scene. Through gallery exhibition and personal initiatives, he strives to encourage other individuals with disabilities to follow their muse and share their work.

     

  • Judy Aslinger

    Judy Aslinger was born and raised on a farm in Sale Creek, TN. in 1958. She is the mother of 7 children, but says there are many other who called her "Momma". She is self taught artist who works in a wide variety of media such as: painting, sewing, knitting, and jewelry. Through a series of unfortunate events including a car wreck and a stroke (which left her unable to work), she lost almost everything. She moved in with a childhood friend who turned out to be a abusive drug user. She herself used drugs to cope, but is now in a group home and living drug free. Despite health problems and other challenges, she has goals of getting a home, a car, and being able to help her youngest child through her last year of college. She receives counseling for her depression, and uses art as a mean of recovery and rejuvenation.
  • Kala Kearns

    Kala Kearns is a 22-year-old artist with Autism from Soddy Daisy, TN. Although she exhibited early signs of sensory fixation and struggled with verbal communication from a very young age, she was not formally diagnosed until age 17. At around age 5, she developed a sudden interest in drawing, which she learned from watching her mother. Ever since then, she has been obsessively making art, which serves as both a means of expression and a way for her to pay attention. She has even inspired her younger stepsister and helped teach her to be a better artist. She expresses her personality and love for colors by using a plethora of beautiful patterns, no two the same. Each piece takes days to complete, and in a way, it’s like each artwork is part of her. Art has allowed her to represent herself and her personality in ways that speaking can’t. We hope you love her art as much as we do; it’s one of her most favorite things and her best outlet.

  • Kathleen Williams

    Kathleen Williams is a Chattanooga native who moved to Covington, GA after her mother’s death at age 6. She is a survivor of childhood abuse and has struggled with PTSD, ADHD, bi-polar disorder, and other forms of mental illness. She has been drawing since a young age, and has been painting for about a year now, through art classes at the AIM Center. She finds art to be very soothing, relaxing and helpful to her in times of illness. She loves to paint reproductions of famous works as well as plants and animals. She looks forward to creating more and selling her work through H*Art Gallery.

  • Kevin Dowdy

    Kevin Dowdy, who has been blind for over half of his life, came to H*Art Gallery with a love for beading. He participates weekly at H*Art Gallery’s open studio and at H*Art Gallery community classes where he creates handmade beaded crafts and frames out of recycled calendar paper, as well as original paintings with a variety of tactile materials. He feels a huge sense of accomplishment upon the completion of each piece of work.

  • Khambrel Green

    Khambrel Green’s early introduction to art came from watching his dad create his art. He was a high school art teacher in Chattanooga. At the end of 1999, I worked at an art retail store in Seaside, California, where my painting career began. From 2000 to 2005, I studied the material aspects of creating two- dimensional art. Unschooled, I felt unencumbered by the rules and guidelines that art students find themselves shouldering. My educational influences are the library books I continually read and the paintings I study in museums and galleries. In 2005, I had a fall resulting in a C4 spinal cord injury. However, I was able to create a relationship with Yahshua and resume painting. My work is influenced by Situationist theory, seventies punk rock ethics and Conceptualism. I am exploring the notions of what a painting is, why it is of value and how I may symbolically reveal my self and the times that I live in through my art.0.

  • Mel Dessa Williams

    “Mel Dessa” Williams was born in Chattanooga, TN. Her stepfather was a truck driver so she moved around a lot as a child, back and forth between Alabama and Tennessee. As a result, she attended 13 different elementary schools! She struggles with anxiety and depression, and has found that art and music have carried her through times of solitude and depression. She remembers being influenced by the artwork of others, which pushed her to want to expand to painting and other media than drawing. She notes that she is a left-handed artist, which makes her unique, because she has had to adapt to tools that were primarily created for a right-handed world. She likes to paint portraits of people and purposefully uses non-traditional colors for skin tones to eliminate ideas about race and bias. She is excited to have a place to create and show her work, and hopes to have her art be more recognized.

     

     

  • Michael Bowlby

    Michael Bowlby is a member of the AIM Center and has worked the back desk for years, spending every spare moment drawing and sketching in pencil. He has a special interest in landscapes – drawings from Nature. Michael is a self-taught artist, a rare and beautiful thing, and had progressed very far in creating lovely scenes from his imagination before coming to the AIM Center’s fine art studio. There, his goal was to start using color and paint in his art. With a quick shading lesson and some basic color instruction, his landscapes have become even better. The naïve quality is still there, along with his new understanding of light and color blending.

     

  • Michael Tyous

    Michael Tyous was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN. He comes to H*Art Gallery through the AIM Center, where he has been making art since 2014. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 24, and most of his symptoms are managed with medication. His active involvement with the art program at AIM is a release for him and helps to calm the voices in his head and improve his mood. He is inspired by nature and influenced by Japanese culture. He loves to draw and paint animals and has also been experimenting with creating three-dimensional pieces with paper and cardboard.

  • Mirian Prepodnik

  • Misty Hicks

     Misty Hicks is a lifelong native of Chattanooga. When she was around driving age and applying for her drivers’ license, she learned that something was drastically wrong with her eyes. She dropped out of school in the middle of her senior year because she was having such a hard time adjusting to her declining vision. She had been misdiagnosed and it wasn’t until she was 21 that she received her proper diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa which has a slow progression. During some of this time, she was able to do a rehabilitation program and work part time in various jobs in grocery and food service, though the challenges of transportation and low hours and pay didn’t really make things any easier. At age 25 she was fully blind. Her life took a brighter turn in 2015 when she learned about Signal Centers of Chattanooga. There she was exposed to new technology that would aid in her independence . She learned about the Low Vision Art Expression group at H*Art Gallery and now has a renewed interest in art. More importantly, she appreciates the therapeutic benefits. She laughingly points out that it has helped with her patience, and adds that it’s “a good stress reliever.” She also says that even for a little while, it “helps [her] forget that [she’s] blind.”

  • Patricia Gilley

    Patricia S. Gilley is a Chattanooga native. She feels proud and blessed to have raised five children, despite experiencing domestic violence and other traumatizing circumstances. She says that motherhood taught her to be frugal and helped her to have the skills to survive on a fixed income. She comes to H*Art Gallery through AIM Center, where she started to make art in the fall of 2017. Art helps her to cope with her mood disorder. She enjoys copying the works of old masters, and particularly loves Leonardo Da Vinci. She considers Leonardo to be an inspirational mentor, who “went a long way, despite his past,” which is her own aspiration. She loves to paint and is excited that she can exhibit and sell her paintings through H*Art Gallery. Her hope is that her art will leave a legacy for her grandchildren.

  • Randy Gray

    Randall Gray (Randy) is a self-taught “apophenia” artist and North Carolina native. The local artist is a disabled vet of the Vietnam era, when he served as an intelligence specialist in Ethiopia (now Eritrea). After his nervous breakdown following 9/11, when all of his repressed memories and PTSD rudely came forth, he had all day to himself, with nothing else to do but paint. “Painting had saved me. Painting something that I think is good is the greatest pleasure that I receive these days.” When asked why Randy had chosen to do art, his reply was “It’s been more of a case of art choosing me, I think.” He had a very vivid imagination as a kid and loved to doodle and draw. He would spend hours filling up notebooks with very intricate designs. He sees some of this in his style today. “I love being an artist, being creative, and seeing what happy accidents can occur whenever I paint. I love sharing my art with other people. It’s very satisfying to be a continuing presence in someone’s home.”

     

  • Richard Thompson

    Richard Thompson is a self-taught glass artist. He suffers from bi-lateral radial nerve syndrome and cannot open his fingers without use of another object. At 53, he retired from U.S.A.F. He has been working with glass for over fifteen years and his style adds new meaning to the word “mosaic.” His generous spirit led him to H*Art Gallery and we are thrilled to have seen his style evolve throughout the years.

     

  • Robert Castor

    Robert Castor grew up on the streets of the West Coast, primarily in California. He was in and out of foster care and family homes due to an unstable home life. He found some stability when he moved to Las Vegas with his uncle, Scott Garcia, as a teenager. It was there that he first really connected with art. He won a scholarship to an Academy of Art in San Francisco but was only able to go for about a semester because he couldn’t afford to live there, even in Oakland. He became homeless and eventually moved back to Las Vegas. He continued to make art on his own, influenced by abstraction, Surrealism and graphic novels. In addition to art “gigs” such as making murals for tattoo parlors and Comicon, he worked at casinos, was a rising amateur boxer, and the lead singer of a punk band! He came to Chattanooga in early 2000 and got into a car accident. His whole world imploded due to suffering severe bodily injury and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). He has spent many years in recovery, learning how to adapt to a new skill set, including changes in his painting style due to wrist-control issues. He considers art to be his “silent scream,” his way of expressing both love and pain.

  • Robert Waters

    Robert Waters is a native of Chattanooga. He is an active member of the AIM Center and has enjoyed making art at Lighthouse and H*Art Gallery, as well. Robert has struggled with homelessness due to mental health issues since young adulthood. He values the support he receives from his family and his group home. He appreciates all forms of art including: visual art, music, dance, fashion, and culinary. He enjoys gardening and participating in special events with AIM and H*Art Gallery. Robert is outgoing and never meets a stranger. His unique and creative sense of personal fashion makes him recognizable and leaves him remembered.

     

  • Ruby Ford

    Ruby Ford is a member of the AIM Center and an active participant in the Art Studio Program. She is grateful that she has the opportunity to enjoy art and be creative. She has developed a passion for painting, drawing, sculpture, bookmaking, and collage. She enjoys working with paint, sand, wood, plaster, and graphite. Ruby has been a musician since junior high and high school band; playing alto-saxophone and has now expanded her repertoire to include the visual arts.

     

  • Shariece Hayes

    My name is Shariece Hayes. My artwork is influenced by what I am currently learning at the AIM Center and by my mother who tells me that I can do it if I put my mind to it. I have had little training in the arts, but I love color! Art is as important to me as eating and sleeping. I was looking for help to become an artist, so I took a small art class in middle school. I also attended a class at Bayside Gym where I continued learning to draw. I enjoy making sculptures, painting, embroidery, weaving, and many other mediums.

     

  • Shawna K. Lindsey

    Shawna K. Lindsey came to H*Art as a volunteer with our Low-Vision group art expression class for artists with blindness or low vision. She soon realized that she found comfort and healing amidst her fellow-artists and decided to share her story and her talents, joining as an exhibiting artist. Here is her story, in her words, “I was born in Knoxville, TN. I have suffered from PTSD for 50 years resulting from childhood sexual abuse. I joined an oppressive, legalistic cult when I was 16. I came to faith in Jesus when I was 20, but spent the next 26 years in the cult. I was misdiagnosed and medicated for Bipolar Disorder. After my father’s suicide, a slow healing process from my PTSD began. I married, raised 3 children, finished my B.S. in Speech Pathology in 1989, and went to law school in 1995. In 2008, I was able to go to seminary. God opened my eyes and led me out of the cult in 2009. I now proclaim redemption, freedom and grace through Jesus; He is my emancipator and liberator! Art music, and writing have brought me healing and hope throughout life’s journey. My husband and I have 5 children and 9 grandchildren! I work as a substitute teacher.”

     

  • Stacey Stokes

    Stacey Stokes was born in Chattanooga, TN. and graduated from Howard High School. He remembers liking art from a young age and even being told that he had “artistic hands” as a young man. He attended Chattanooga State focusing on welding, but was unable to finish his degree. He was diagnosed with depression and Schizophrenia as an adult. He came to H*Art Gallery through his attendance of therapy and art classes at the AIM Center. He speaks enthusiastically of expressing himself through his art, and playing guitar and singing. He also has an interest in making movies/videos and fashion. He likes that visual art can be reflective of the artist’s emotions but that it can also be seen and interpreted differently by different people. He mentions that when he looks at a piece of art, that he is “adding to it” in his own imagination. He is excited to be displaying and selling his art here at H*Art Gallery.

     

  • Vanessa Riddle

    Vanessa Riddle is originally from Knoxville, TN., but has lived in Chattanooga for over 20 years. She says that art has always been her passion. She recalls doing art since she was very young, drawing on the walls and furniture and playing in the mud. She lives with Schizoaffective Disorder but manages her mental health with medication and support from her loving family. She uses art as a means of coping and sees her creative process as a form of meditation. She loves to create watercolor paintings and pottery. She sees art as an illusion or dream, and says that her paintings and pottery define who she is.

     

     

  • Vicki Henson

    Vicki Henson attends a weekly art expression group for artists with low vision here at H*Art Gallery. She was a weaver for 15 years, but as her vision narrowed, she became dissatisfied with struggling to create textile art. She became withdrawn and depressed with the realization of her new challenges. Being able to explore new mediums in our low vision group has helped her feel less isolated and has helped her to cope with her lessening and changing visual abilities. Art is empowering her to “let go” and have more courage. She now says, “the more I do art, the more I want to.”

  • William "Bill" Sera

    Bill Sera is a Florida native, who now resides in Chattanooga, TN. He came to H*Art Gallery through Aim Center’s Studio Program. He is a survivor of early childhood abuse, who thankfully had family who intervened at 5 years old. He is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and struggles with other mental health issues relating to this early trauma, but art helps him to deal with his struggles. In his words, he “uses art as a cathartic way of telling his story.” As a big fan of film, he sees himself as viewing art like a director who is making a movie. He is a big fan of architecture and loves to focus on it in his paintings. He uses the bright, happy colors of Miami Beach architecture to represent his lighter, playful side, and collage to reflect his darker moods. If Bill “hits it big” with his art, he would love to one day own his own art studio and gallery.

     

  • William Wade

    William Wade has always had a strong passion for art and dreamed of one day having his work shown in a gallery. William is a fighter, surviving colon cancer at the age of 22. Two years later an auto accident caused his spine to fracture in four places leaving him permanently disabled. While recuperating he began teaching himself how to paint. He mainly likes to work with oils and acrylic but likes to try other mediums as well. William would love more than anything to pursue a career in fine art. He is open to commission work.
  • Willie Watkins

    Willie Watkins was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN. Willie grew up in a rough neighborhood but believes that it’s not where you are from but how you live and how you treat people that matters. In 2003 Willie was the victim of a home fire that left him homeless for 4 or 5 years. Currently, he is in a stable place and happy to be creating art. He came to the H*Art Gallery with a determination to live righteously and with a good heart. He credits his faith in Christ for his resolve to be a good person. He has been drawing since his school years, and loves to paint, as well. He is very interested in many aspects of the natural world and uses that as inspiration for most of his artwork. Willie believes that you can find art in your heart, and encourages others to explore their creativity. He wants to be a champion for the innocent and otherwise oppressed, and to shed a bright light with his welcoming spirit and awesome art.

  • Yolanda

    Yolanda learned to sew from her Grandmother at a very young age. She can remember sitting on the front porch and watching her Grandma sew. It started a fire in her soul that has been with her throughout her life and continues to serve her as a form of therapy. She recalls being good at art in high school, even being named “best artist” her senior year. However, it wasn’t until recently that she was urged to use visual arts media again at H*Art Gallery that her love of art has been renewed. Being creative through sewing and art-making help her battle the depression that largely stems from an unhealthy relationship that lead to domestic violence. Yolanda is trying to take her life back and hopes to be able to one day realize her dream of creating fashion. She is currently living outside of Atlanta, caring for a loved one.