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Justin Cose, a student at Nichols Middle School, interviewed three Evanstonians whose work enriches the community: Indira Freitas Johnson, Susan Trieshmann and Hecky Powell. The stories about Ms. Trieshmann and Mr. Powell can be found at

Indira Freitas Johnson is an Evanston artist and a nonviolence educator. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and has lived and worked in the Chicago/Evanston area for more than 20 years. As an artist, she has always pulled strength and creativity from her Indian roots. The influences of her mother, a social activist, and her father, an artist and follower of the philosophy of Gandhi, have been important in her life and her art. Much of her inspiration comes from her home of India.

Ms. Johnson is a talented and humble artist who makes art with cause and purpose. She thinks about peace and wants peace and works to make a more peaceful world around her. She is a peace activist through her art. She creates art in her studio in Evanston and spreads peace throughout communities across Chicagoland.

Ms. Johnson explained her powerful art installation about peace. She said, “‘Ten Thousand Ripples’ is public art work and a civic engagement project that has been going since 2012. It is now in its second phase and the Chicago Park District has a number of very large installations of the dozens of Buddha heads that captivate the viewer into thinking about and feeling peace. There are 10 communities that have five sculptures in each – and different events and projects are held around the Buddha sculptures. The sculptures are meant to be a catalyst for conversations about peace and violence.”

As a passenger, this writer recently drove by a circle of 10 Buddha heads near the lakefront in Chicago and the driver and I could see how much our conversations would emerge as a results of her art.

When asked what came to mind when she thought of the concept Best-Self Ms Johnson said, “I guess I don’t think of that in relationship to me, but I see a lot of other people who I would think are really great as far as the work that they are doing.”

Indira Freitas Johnson is a very inspiring person. She uses her gift as an artist-sculptor to work to make peace in Chicago neighborhoods in a creative way. Because of her work, many people are using alternatives to violence. The artist gives us a different outlook on peace and violence, teaching us to share our experiences.

Ms. Johnson is stepping up and dreaming up creative art that keeps giving.