Melissa Raman Molitor, MA, ATR-BC, LCPC
Melissa is an artist, educator and art therapist living and working in the Chicago-Evanston area. She is an associate professor, adj. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in the Graduate Art Therapy Department, and the founder of Kids Create Change, a social practice that employs collective art making, participatory art, public exhibition, and community engagement to promote social-emotional development, sociocultural awareness, and collective social action. Melissa’s work centers on encouraging young people to explore identity, engage with their community, and address personal challenges and social issues through art and narrative.
Melissa is a founding board member of EvanstonMade where she works to increase support and opportunities for young artists in Evanston to exhibit and sell their work, and engage young people and families in the arts through the creation of programs and events. She also works as a consultant to schools and organizations interested in the myriad ways in which art can connect people and build community.
From 2000-2007 Melissa served as the founding director of Connection Arts Chicago, a nonprofit organization providing free therapeutic art programs for children and families who identify as recent immigrants and refugees, and from 2007-2018 she was the co-founding owner of the therapeutic practice Art & Soul, where she served as Director of School and Community Programs developing social emotional arts programming for youth.
Melissa is a mixed media artist who uses ritual and sensory memory to explore intercultural and intergenerational themes, creating meaning in both personal and collective identity through assemblage and mixed media narratives. She holds a BA degree in Psychology and a BFA with a concentration in ceramics and photography from the University of Michigan, and an MA in Art Therapy from SAIC. She is a registered, board-certified art therapist and licensed clinical professional counselor.
Angela Lyonsmith, MA, ATR-BC, LCPC
Angela is the mother of three young children, an artist, educator, art therapist and community builder. She is the co-director of Kids Create Change, a doctoral student at Mount Mary University and a founding board member for EvanstonMade. She has worked as an art therapist, consultant and clinical supervisor since 2001 with very young children through older adults within non-profit, social enterprise and for-profit models of care. She provides consultation for art therapy program development in residential facilities and innovative community based settings, leads process art experiences for young children through Third Space, supports therapeutic arts paraprofessional trainings in East Africa for the development of ethical, responsible, culturally relevant therapeutic arts programs through Global Alliance for Africa and provides clinical supervision to art therapists across the Midwest.
Angela served as an Assistant Professor, adj. in the Graduate Art Therapy Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 12 years, an artist-in-residence at the DuPage Children's Museum and the director and owner of Gather, a community art studio and creativity-focused play space in Evanston, Illinois, designed for newborns through 6 year olds and their caregivers to meaningfully engage together in the arts and play. As a local arts-based business owner and artist, she was a founding member of C3 an organization promoting the intersections between community, creativity and commerce. She is a collaborator in the 2020 Year of Kindness and Nonviolent Action, a public art and community engagement initiative, which uses the transformative power of the arts to bring people together around the common goal of fostering an inclusive and peaceful community.
Her research interests include community art spaces as ecosystems of resilience; responsible entrepreneurship that generates social capital; art making as social action expressed in the following collaborative projects: Art for Peace, Artworks, the Wandering Uterus Project, @artwithpeople, Creatively Empowered Women (CEW), @kindnessinactionevanston, and Evanston Art Connects. Her current art practice is focused on the exploration of metaphors from the natural world and slow craft as activism. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Art from Muskingum University and a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from SAIC. She is a registered, board-certified art therapist and licensed clinical professional counselor.