The Ragdale Foundation, a residency program located on five acres of land in Lake Forest, Illinois, was established in 1976 and initially aimed at providing a supportive environment to writers. The program has since expanded its reach and now includes visual artists, composers, filmmakers, and interdisciplinary artists.

One artist who recently benefited from this program is Martin Vargas, a former inmate turned artist who won the Waud Fellowship for the Formerly Incarcerated. The fellowship is awarded to a formerly incarcerated individual working in any artistic discipline, and it allowed Vargas to participate in an 18- or 25-day residency at Ragdale. The program also provided him with a $2,000 stipend to participate in the Ragdale In Schools educational outreach program, which aims to bring the benefits of the arts to students.

Vargas describes himself as an eclectic artist, preferring pen-and-ink or pencil for his work. He began dabbling with different mediums in the early 1990s and has since learned how to use water-soluble oils, pastels, and acrylics. Although pastels are one of his preferred mediums, especially for portraits, he also creates pieces highlighting wildlife, social issues, people, and his signature style, “Pudgies.”

In his artist statement, Vargas discussed how he didn’t see himself as an artist at first, but enjoyed art as a kid. He credits his success to being self-taught and to watching other talented artists like Herschell Turner, who uses pastels in his creations. Vargas remembered feeling frustrated when he first tried to work with pastels and left them alone to not make a mess, but he kept asking questions and trying again until he could create with them well.

The Ragdale Foundation provides a peaceful environment for artists where they can live and work. Moreover, they offer several programs that aim to support the community, such as art exhibitions, readings, and musical performances. The Foundation prioritizes creating a healthy and supportive community among the residents and fellows.

The Waud Fellowship for the Formerly Incarcerated is a particularly impressive initiative where artists who have been incarcerated get the chance to engage in their art and showcase their talent to the public. This fellowship encourages formerly incarcerated creatives to hone their skills and cultivate their artistic abilities in a welcoming and supportive environment. The fellowship is awarded based on merit and suitability of practice for public programming and Ragdale in Schools Initiative.

The Ragdale Foundation is more than just a residency program, it is a place where creativity is nurtured and celebrated. The Foundation has been providing a supportive environment for artists for over four decades, welcoming writers, visual artists, composers, filmmakers, and interdisciplinary artists to live and work on their five-acre property in Lake Forest, Illinois.

In recent years, the Foundation has expanded its reach to include programs that support the community, such as art exhibitions, readings, and musical performances. One such program is the Ragdale In Schools educational outreach program. Through this program, the Foundation brings the benefits of the arts to students, inspiring creativity and self-expression in young minds.

Another program that has garnered attention in recent years is the Waud Fellowship for the Formerly Incarcerated. This fellowship was established to provide a creative outlet for formerly incarcerated individuals working in any artistic discipline. The fellowship is awarded based on merit and suitability of practice for public programming and Ragdale in Schools Initiative. The program aims to give artists who have been incarcerated the chance to engage in their art and showcase their talent to the public.

Martin Vargas, a former inmate turned artist, was a recent recipient of the Waud Fellowship for the Formerly Incarcerated. This fellowship provided him with the opportunity to participate in an 18- or 25-day residency at Ragdale, as well as a $2,000 stipend to participate in the Ragdale In Schools educational outreach program. Vargas is an eclectic artist who prefers pen-and-ink or pencil for his work. He creates pieces highlighting wildlife, social issues, people, and his signature style, “Pudgies.”

In his artist statement, Vargas discussed how he didn’t see himself as an artist at first, but enjoyed art as a kid. He credits his success to being self-taught and to watching other talented artists like Herschell Turner, who uses pastels in his creations. Vargas remembered feeling frustrated when he first tried to work with pastels and left them alone to not make a mess, but he kept asking questions and trying again until he could create with them well.

The Ragdale Foundation provides a peaceful environment for artists where they can live and work. Moreover, they offer several programs that aim to support the community, such as art exhibitions, readings, and musical performances. The Foundation prioritizes creating a healthy and supportive community among the residents and fellows.

The Waud Fellowship for the Formerly Incarcerated is a particularly impressive initiative that encourages formerly incarcerated creatives to hone their skills and cultivate their artistic abilities in a welcoming and supportive environment. This fellowship provides artists with the chance to engage in their art and showcase their talent to the public. This program supports formerly incarcerated individuals in their creative pursuits, providing opportunities for artists who otherwise might not get the chance to nurture their creativity and become valuable members of their communities.

Overall, the Ragdale Foundation and the Waud Fellowship for the Formerly Incarcerated are incredible programs that allow artists to grow and develop their craft. These programs provide opportunities for artists who may not otherwise have access to such resources, supporting them in their creative endeavors and inspiring them to create beautiful and meaningful art. The Ragdale Foundation continues to be a beacon of creativity and community, promoting the transformative power of the arts in our world.