Changing landscapes, changing lives
In what Sheryl Evelo calls “one of life’s ironies,” she and her husband, David, were earning degrees in special education when their daughter Stephanie was born with Down syndrome. The couple did everything in their power to help her live life as fully and independently as possible—expectations she more than exceeded.
As an adult, Stephanie lived a few houses down from her parents, had friends, volunteered, and was a gifted artist.
“She made paintings, drawings, pottery, jewelry, and more,” says Sheryl, ’87 M.Ed. Stephanie also held various office jobs, including one at the U’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI), a federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.
ICI helps address the needs of people with disabilities through various initiatives, such as Changing Landscapes, an ongoing exhibition of work by artists with disabilities. A solo exhibition of Stephanie’s paintings and drawings was held in 2009.
After Stephanie died in 2012 at age 43, the Evelos established the Stephanie Evelo Arts and Disability Memorial Fund, which helps ICI host exhibits, purchase art for its permanent collection, and support the Stephanie Award, which recognizes one artist in every Changing Landscapes exhibition. “The artists are thrilled to have their work displayed and receive financial support, be it through sales or the Stephanie Award,” David says.
ICI exhibits works from its permanent collection at various Twin Cities venues to help increase awareness of artists with disabilities.