INA, Ill. (July 16, 2015) – It’s a big year for Lee Knaus, working artist and Rend Lake College graduate. After years of schooling and working hard, Knaus has embarked on two life-changing paths: the first as a curator for a travelling art exhibit opening tonight in Chicago and the second as an entrepreneur in his own glassblowing company in Florida.
Not only is it a big year, but today will be a day to remember. The 2012 RLC grad has been working for months as the curator for the “Dream, Achieve, Inspire” Exhibit, which opens at The Magnificent Mile Doubletree by Hilton in Chicago this evening. All of the artists featured in the exhibit have cystinosis, a rare disease impacting about 2,000 people worldwide, including Knaus, when it causes the amino acid cysteine to accumulate throughout the body.
Knaus has been featured on the Cystinosis Research Network’s website (cystinosis.org) as an artist who continuously overcomes his disease to create magnificent work. And that’s how he found the curator position for the “Dream, Achieve, Inspire” Exhibit – or rather, how it found him.
“Because I was featured on the website for some of my work, Katie [Larimore, Exhibit Chairperson] called me to see if I’d be interested in putting something together and donating to the show. She asked if I would mind helping her, and of course I said yes I’d do it,” said Knaus.
Knaus, originally from Texico but now living part-time in Florida, has been travelling back and forth to Chicago in preparation for the international showcase, which will debut during the Cystinosis Research Network Family Conference. As the curator, Knaus will assist Larimore in setting up prior to opening night to be sure all of the artists and their work are shown in the best light.
“There are 103 pieces in the show, including one of my glass pieces, and I’m going to help organize the pieces, hang them and put them on pedestals before the show opens,” said Knaus. “The show will be going to different countries – 19 of them – and I’m hoping that I get a ticket to go when they travel. I know they’re headed to Mexico, Brazil, and Spain next.”
For Knaus, the show is more than just a travelling exhibit, it’s a chance for artists with cystinosis to show off what they can do, despite the disease.
“This show is filled with art by people with cystinosis and it basically highlights the good things they can do and the attitudes of people with this disease,” explained Knaus. “There are little kids to professional artists of all ages.”
According to information from the Cystinosis Research Network, this summer’s event is the first global gathering of art from over 100 artists living in 30 different countries who are affected with cystinosis, and Chicago is just the first stop of many.
Although his hands are already full, Knaus has also started his own glassblowing company – Knaus Art Glass – out of the studio where he works in Jacksonville, Fla. Though still a work-in-progress, he said the company has been a dream of his for a while.
“I’ve just started Knaus Art Glass and I’ll be selling my work on my website. I’m starting to fit in with the studio where I work. There are only three people who work there, at Imagine Blown Glass, and I’ve been working for Kimberly Young for a while now. We’re family here, so I don’t need my own studio at this point,” said Knaus.
He does plan to stay connected to his origins in the RLC Art program, from where he received two associate degrees in art and fine art. This year, he intends to donate blown glass pieces to the Student Art Auction, which helps raise funds for the Art Scholarship Fund.