Home News Skokie man rekindles passion for art and heritage education during pandemic

Skokie man rekindles passion for art and heritage education during pandemic

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Skokie man rekindles passion for art and heritage education during pandemic

SKOKIE, In poor health. — A Skokie man realized he’s a talented artist in the course of the pandemic and strives to teach about his native homeland of Africa through his charcoal drawings.

As his first solo exhibition is underway, John Wangendo reflected to WGN News concerning the realization he could do that while uniquely educating on the cultures of Africa.

Wangendo ended up within the Chicago area 25 years ago from Kenya.

He was having fun with his life and has a profession, however the boredom of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown unearthed a hidden talent — art and drawing.

“I’m an independent contractor so my workload really went down. I used to be just sitting in the home doing nothing — I don’t think this might have happened if the lockdown didn’t come,” Wangendo said. “I knew at the back of my mind I liked drawing, however it was something I didn’t take into consideration.”

Wangendo’s daughter pushed him back to art after she saw a few sketches he did “here or there.”

The last time Wangendo took it seriously was when he was 10. Starting out in 2020 with a pencil and paper, he remembered what it was wish to be pleased with an artwork immediately.



Wangendo drawing on canvas

“I remember once I first began drawing, those memories got here back to me,” Wangendo said. “I’d run to my mom or dad and show them what I drew.”

He started off with pencil portraits of famous people and a few of his Facebook friends. The feedback Wangendo received was encouraging and he knew he was onto something.

But something was missing. On social media, Wangendo noticed numerous portraits of famous folks and desired to pivot to something different — like his African heritage.

“In Africa, most talents go to waste. Talents like drawing and singing,” Wangendo said. “Parents want you to be a health care provider, a lawyer.”

He wanted to indicate those in Africa and around the globe that art is something to not quit.

After being encouraged to change to charcoal drawings on canvas by a friendly art supply worker, Wangendo set to work.

As an alternative of portraits of famous people, he had an idea up his sleeve to feature something rather more personal to him — children and residents of Africa.

“This just isn’t really connecting, so many other artists are doing the identical thing. So I had a light-weight bulb moment — ‘I’m from Kenya, let’s try art from Africa to teach the America audience about my culture and other African countries,’” Wangendo said.

He followed some photographers who steadily traveled to Africa and would allow them to know when he desired to draw considered one of their photos.

Like he did together with his pencil drawings, Wangendo uploaded the primary charcoal pictures to social media and received amazing feedback.

He soon desired to “test the waters” outside of positive feedback online and so Wangendo joined Evanston Made, a non-profit art organization.

After showing those at Evanston Made his work, he was soon invited to have his art in an exhibition on the Evanston Art Center.

Under each of his drawings, he tells a story behind it and explains why the topics could also be dressed how they’re.

Just a number of years into really specializing in his newly-found talent, Wangendo has his own solo exhibit currently up immediately. It began on Dec. 7 at A + C Architects, situated at 4840 Important St. in Skokie.

“Positive feedback is one of the best feeling for any artist,” he said. “It’s really exciting to see people stop to admire your work.”

It runs through Jan. 18 and is free.

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