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TODAY

Monday, December 17

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Current statistics state that one in three women and one in six men have been sexually assaulted by the time they reach adulthood. Ink Blot Project is a not-for-profit organization that raises awareness and funds for sexual assault and incest crisis centers through the creation of fine art. Chicago artist Misha Shebesta, who has shown recently at 4 Art Inc., the National Bank and May Street, started IBP as a personal project in 2003. In 2004 it was the recipient of the CAPP grant award, and this award, along with the recent procurement of the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, which on a pro bono publico basis will assist the project with corporate formation and tax-exempt filing, have combined to give IBP the encouragement it has needed to continue to expand and aspire. To learn more about Ink Blot Project visit inkblotproject.org.

Q: Non-profits work under a constant sense of urgency — perpetually needing to raise funds in order to achieve their stated missions. In your work with Ink Blot Project, have you experienced this sense of urgency? Have you found urgency to be an incentive to creativity, or is it a tiring, "business" aspect of your organization's pursuit?

Shebesta: Most artists are accustomed to a sense of fiscal urgency. It is a way of life to which we are uniquely adapted.

Q: Do you find your work as an individual artist becoming inseparable from your work with IBP — have you come to treat IBP as the offspring of your development as an artist? Or do you draw a line between the two?

Shebesta: Most everyone who knows me, I am sure, would say I am far from myopic. I am a passionate and creative person. I try to bring these qualities to every aspect of my life. IBP is one aspect of my life, so of course I approach it as passionately and creatively as I would anything else. Too narrow a focus would limit my personal art, my personal growth, and most of all I believe it would limit the potential of IBP. IBP relies on the creativity, optimism, and the diversity of our board of directors. We try to bring a sense of hope and new ideas to visitors of our instillations. This would be impossible were we locked into a singular view.

Q: "Victim" is a powerful term. The emotions that this term evokes — especially when unbearably nasty — never cease to confound me. How has the impression of "victim" evolved within your perception through the past years?

Shebesta: There are certainly victims, victims of hurricanes, war, victims of abuse. In my mind victims are the truly misfortunate — they are the deceased. As survivors we have a chance to reclaim and redefine our lives. Every human being at some time in his or her life will be a survivor of something, whether disease, accident or personal tragedy. But as survivors we have a chance to rebuild, and in the case of sexual assault and incest, adapt and help facilitate change to prevent further abuses.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to tqf@gapersblock.com.

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