Steppenwolf Theatre Announces Slate of Artists for Loft Teen Arts Program

Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced the final artists selected for its Loft Teen Arts Project. The visual art competition provides commissions of $1,500-$2,500 to young Chicagoland artists for original new artworks to be displayed in The Loft—Steppenwolf’s first-ever dedicated education space that encompasses the entire fourth floor of its trailblazing new Arts and Education Center, designed by world-renowned architect Gordon Gill of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

The Loft Teen Arts Project commission winners include five individuals and two groups:

  • Elisabeth Cervantes (age 18) from Mount Greenwood with an oil painting project
  • Alyha Khalil (age 16) of Irving Park with an oil painting project
  • Liz Olivarez Lyles (age 21) from Lakeview with a mixed media project
  • Kaleia Maxey (age 17) from Beverly with a photography/collage project
  • Stevia Ndoe (age 18) from West Ridge/North Park with a photography project
  • Tia and Tyra Smith (age 20) from Chatham with a textile project
  • BUILD, a violence prevention and youth development organization based on the west side of Chicago, with a group artwork, medium TBA

In addition to these winners, Steppenwolf has announced three runners up, Ivan Damian, Hailey Murray and Noor Alkhafaji, who will each receive a $250 cash prize.

The winning artists will create their works early this fall inspired by the theme “The Future I See: Creating for Community.” Artworks will be unveiled in October and displayed for one year in The Loft. The competition was juried by a panel of acclaimed artists including Nick Cave, Liz Flores, Alex Garcia, Silvia I. Gonzalez and SANTIAGO X, in collaboration with Chicagoland youth and Steppenwolf Education staff.

“We are deeply honored to have the work of these incredibly talented finalists adorn The Loft walls! The commitment of our jury panelists such as world-famous artist Nick Cave and muralist Liz Flores helped to create thoughtful ideas for the burgeoning partnerships that we look forward to cultivating with each of these young artists. There has been an abundance of joy, positive energy and learning opportunities involved in this competition. Endless thanks and appreciation to the nearly 150 Chicagoland youth artists who submitted and congratulations to the winners!” says Rae Taylor, Manager of Education Partnerships and creator of the Loft Teen Arts Project

More information on the Loft Teen Arts Project can be found at