Art is a narrative into one’s mind. Art expresses emotion. Art is a method of communicating when words cannot. 

“Art is a way to tell a story,” further expresses Stephanie McNeal, Esperanza’s Coleridge Adult Day Program’s Art Facilitator. “It is a universal language that unites and engages everyone.”

After taking a few art therapy classes while attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Stephanie’s life was transformed. “I liked how present Art Therapy required me to be. There is a lot of growth and self-awareness to be learned from response and memory.” And once she interned at Esperanza Community Services art studio, she found her calling in the agency!

Now, 7 years later, Stephanie has developed a robust art program for Esperanza’s adult clients. Artists make 2D and 3D work, with occasional impromptu performance and dance breaks. Esperanza’s art studio teaches a variety of skills to adults with special needs: problem-solving, communication, emotion regulation, self-confidence, and relaxation.

“What I enjoy most about facilitating at Esperanza are the interactions and conversations I have with the artists,” Stephanie says. “We talk about our feelings, relationships, and interests outside of class. Most of our time together is spent sharing aspects of our inner worlds and that builds community.” 

Esperanza artists display their work at the Fall annual art show We Work Together, the Spring Gala, as well as many other city-wide exhibitions throughout the year.

“Our artists are inspirational, and I feel liberated being around their creative energy! It’s important to me to share that with others.”