Timeline: Illinois Art Station plans new future, new site

Illinois Art Station is on the move and making plans for an expanded future in Bloomington-Normal.

Established two years ago and initially associated with Illinois State University, the Illinois Art Station (IAS) provides hands-on visual arts experiences for youth in the community. The organization has now set out on its own to chart a new course in the Twin Cities.

Laura Jaster, the new executive director of IAS, said the now public non-profit organization will retain ties to the university while exploring new options within the community in helping children learn and develop. grow through the experience of art.

“Art helps them use their voice through a creative outlet,” she said. “We really hope that we can reach everything children in our community. But we make a special effort to reach children who otherwise would not have these experiences. So we try to work with underserved populations.

Credit Illinois Art Station


Illinois Art Station hopes to expand into its proposed new location on Vernon Avenue in Normal.

Jaster acknowledged that the Art Station was fortunate to be associated with the ISU when the IAS was created.

“We will continue to partner with Illinois State University. Even now we have graduate assistants who come from ISU, and I think we will continue to have a very positive relationship with ISU,” she said.

“We have established ourselves as an independent, non-profit public institution. In many ways, this allows us to be more flexible and responsive to the community. I think it also allows us to become that of the community Illinois Art Station. They become owners in the sense that there are many more things that we can answer. It’s really exciting for us.

IAS is considering Vernon Avenue near Constitution Trail as a likely location to house its new permanent facility.

“It’s going to be so wonderful to be able to invite people over to our house and really create a home,” said Jaster, who was recently appointed as executive director.

“We’ve done a lot of really great work, but we can also go beyond that. We could reach many more people in our community. I would like the Illinois Art Station to be something that is thought ready for community groups, teachers and families as a place where they can come and have these creative experiences and all of these positive outcomes that come from these experiences.

Having a location near Constitution Trail has the potential to bring new people to IAS, Jaster added.

“This location gives us many opportunities to connect with people walking along the trail and to be able to see us as they come down this trail and hopefully be intrigued by what they see and want to walk. on our land and enter our space.

“We are also very close to Uptown. It’s easily walkable for a lot of people, so hopefully this will encourage people spending time in Uptown Normal to do a bit of a walk in our direction.”

Recently, IAS was involved in two large-scale mural projects: Washington Street at Constitution Trail and Market Street in Bloomington. More such projects may well be in the future for Illinois Art Station, Jaster said.

“These mural projects have been such a wonderful time for the IAS, but also for the youth in our community. I think they do a great job telling our story, both to the Illinois Art Station and to the community. I know that the young people who have participated have really meaningful experiences.

“What’s wonderful about these public art projects is their longevity,” she said. “When people drive or pass the mural, they can participate in it in some way. And that will continue long after the project is finished.

“I hope we continue to have these truly beautiful, colorful, large-scale moments of public art that the IAS is spearheading.”

Although IAS is currently closed due to the pandemic, Jaster plans to have virtual programming ready for the fall and is in the process of seeking approval from the City of Normal for its new location.


Laura Jaster talks about the importance of community partners for IAS.


How could the pandemic have a long-term impact on IAS?

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