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updated: 8/21/2014 12:57 PM

Fostering a love of art at Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts

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  • Miles Evans, left, is an avid photographer who will be displaying some of his work at this weekend's Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts. His mom, Julie, says Miles focuses primarily on capturing nature.

       Miles Evans, left, is an avid photographer who will be displaying some of his work at this weekend's Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts. His mom, Julie, says Miles focuses primarily on capturing nature.
    Safiya Merchant | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Cards at Festival of the Arts


Miles Evans has been taking pictures since he was 7 when he started bringing his camera to his brother's sporting events.

Since then, the Glen Ellyn resident has developed his skills capturing the beauty of everyday life, from the greenery of The Morton Arboretum to the leaves on his own porch.

This weekend, the 14-year-old photographer, who has Down syndrome, will get the chance to show off his work at the 45th annual Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts, which takes place Aug. 23-24 in Lake Ellyn Park at Lenox Road and Linden Street.

Visitors to the free festival will get to see and purchase original works by many artists while enjoying live music.

The festival is sponsored by the Glen Ellyn Lions Club and profits will go toward the club's charitable causes.

Geoff Bevington, a club board member and publicity chairman for the festival, said it's a juried art show. Besides music and art, guests will get to enjoy food and a beer and wine tent, while kids can paint for free.

"It's an opportunity for people to gather, to see interesting artwork, to purchase it, and then to hear great music," Bevington said.

The Western DuPage Special Recreation Association will have an artist tent where those who have special needs -- including Miles -- and have participated in the association's art programming will get the opportunity to showcase and sell their creations.

Funds from their sales will go directly to the artists who made the pieces, said Dana Stewart, WDSRA's manager of fine art programs and facilities. The majority of the art will be from adults who have disabilities, Stewart said.

WDSRA has multiple fine art programs, including woodworking and ceramics.

"We believe by providing fine art programs and cultural programs, it really enriches the people who attend those programs," Stewart said.

Along with providing an opportunity to meet and talk with friends, Stewart said making art gives people with special needs a "great sense of self-esteem."

"When they finish and they're happy with what they've done, they just feel so proud about it," Stewart said. "That's why being involved in the Glen Ellyn Festival of the Arts is such a wonderful thing, because they can bring their friends and family out to see the artwork they've done."

Miles will have cards incorporating his photography for sale at the festival. The teen did not take part in WDSRA's art programs, but has enjoyed other WDSRA programming.

Over time, Miles has photographed a little bit of everything: the outdoors, signs, food, animals and even feet.

"I would say his primary subject is nature," his mother Julie said. "Because as a family we enjoy taking walks around town and in the woods and in the arboretum so it's been a place that he often will bring his camera."

Julie says the festival is really his "debut event."

Miles says he likes taking photos simply because he is a good photographer.

But as a parent, Julie said she thinks he picked up photography because it allowed him to express himself.

"If I look at it as a parent, I think it very well might have been an extension of his communication system because he wasn't able to communicate as well back then," she said. "And the camera allowed him to show people what he was seeing in the world."

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