Congratulations to Suzanne Rhee, AUI’s Inclusion Mural artist, for winning the Distinguished Artist of the Year Award at last night’s 2024 Arts United Awards! The award is presented each year to an active, established artist of any creative discipline who has made significant contributions to his or her art form within Northeast Indiana.

Suzanne was recognized not just for her artistic prowess in large-scale mural painting, but also for her inclusive vision for the project and the community. “Winning the Distinguished Artist of the Year Award is such an honor,” said Suzanne. “This award is significant because it recognizes more than just talent. It shows that the community values my vision for uplifting others.”

Anna Ross, AUI Executive Director, concurs. “Suzanne’s Inclusion Mural celebrating AUI’s 50th anniversary was groundbreaking because it was the first public art mural in the region to actively recruit and involve people with disabilities in the creative process,” she said. “We are thrilled the project illustrates that every person has a place to express their artistic talents while enriching the quality of life of our community members, especially those with limited access to the arts.”

Other AUI-affiliated artists and projects were recognized at the ceremony as nominees and include the Inclusion Mural itself, along with the Neurodiversity Project: Aesop’s Fables, a joint project with Fort Wayne Youtheatre.

We’re so proud of all of our artists and nominees and are thankful for the opportunity to continue to raise community awareness about the value art and culture bring to sometimes forgotten audiences.

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