Founding members of the Oak Street Art Group: (from left to right) Rachel Malcolm Ensor, Shirley Krienert, Sue Gindlesparger, Ann Fischer and Luca Cruzart.

Rachel Malcolm Ensor

Rachel Malcolm Ensor, one of the founding mothers of Oak Street Art, is also the founder of the Murphysboro School of Art, where she has served as director for nine years. She is currently creating intricate and colorful paintings and mixed-media work using designs that she collects from founding cultures, citing each shape and form in her work.

“My work has always been about the relationship of space and form and how color defines and imbues,” she said.

Sue Gindlesparger

Sue Gindlesparger, another one of the founders, works in metal, creating simple, strong jewelry forms with natural lines and a layer of colors “as if changing light were occurring.”

“I work on line, shape, and form, using nature as my base,” she said. “I look at the way color and nature melt into one another, and I work off of that when I use enameling.”

Ann Fischer

Ann Fischer, a former researcher, is a photographer who uses simple gear to produce images that reflect her love of nature and of tiny things, often combined.

“Behind a camera I feel free,” she said, most intensely when she can capture an instant and an image when “line, color, pattern, proportion and rhythm jump up and grab my attention before I have time to (over)think.”

Luca Cruzat

Luca Cruzat is a printmaker and a Chilean-American who is currently making prints from collagraphs, collages of carefully selected materials, and woodcuts. Through her art she expresses a passion for men and women’s lives and experiences, and explores the emotions that are often hidden deep within.

Shirley Krienert

Shirley Krienert weaves and works in mixed media. She has a passion for textures and textiles, and her mixed-media work often incorporates discarded belongings. She’s currently working on turning Fernweh Weaving Studio “into the finest little handweaving studio in the Midwest.”

In her mixed-media work, she “reveals and rewrites the history hidden within each object, taking what is abandoned and creating a new narrative.”

Darby Ortolano

Darby Ortolano makes both functional and sculptural ceramics. She combines a love of the long and powerful history of the art of ceramics with her “exploration of the sensual and intimate possibilities inherent in clay.”

“The natural world has always been an inspiration for my work,” she said.

Cathy Schmidt

Cathy Schmidt uses leather to create functional art, utilitarian objects that are both practical and beautiful, by hand-cutting and hand-sewing each item. She adds antique buttons, bones and other found items purposefully.

“Every detail has a story,” she said.

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