Meet Ivan Hernandez Salinas, a faculty member at The Art Center. Ivan came to the center in the summer of 2020 as an intern – and we all know how that worked out. With no live summer camp or classes, Ivan and Executive Director James M. Lynch created a new plan. Drawing on his experience as a graffiti artist they approached Curt’s Cafe, a local not-for-profit with ties to the arts community, and offered them a mural for the side of their Highland Park facility.
Ivan held brainstorm sessions with Curt’s Cafe students and came up with a design idea. Because of COVID strictures, the work had to be done in small groups, over time, but Ivan managed to create an 8×8′ mural entitled ‘Rise Up’. He made sure that each of the students got a chance to add their own brushwork to the finished piece, creating a sense of pride and ownership.
This summer Ivan returned to The Art Center as a full-fledged faculty member, leading several of the summer camp sessions and contributing as an artist to several projects, including ‘Draw Together’ and the recent National Night Out, sponsored by the Highland Park Police Department. A favorite with students and staff, Ivan heads back to Illinois State University on August 16 to finish his final year of studies, a culmination of years of hard work and a much-deserved reward.
The youngest of 3 boys, Ivan’s family is from Waukegan, where his brothers are in construction. As a teen he worked in landscaping and construction and came to Highland Park High School as part of an outreach initiative, earning a spot in the College Bound Opportunities program, and a Minority Teachers Scholarship. It was his mentor, Allan Rossman, who introduced him to the art center with support from local philanthropist Jonathan Plotkin. “Things have worked out great,” says Ivan, “and I will always feel like part of the TAC team, no matter where I go or where life leads me.”
Follow Ivan on Instagram: _Chico_brown_