The birth of Magical Minds Studio began after Haj became a mother herself. With an art education and early childhood background from Northern Illinois University Haj knew the importance of art in a young child’s life. She searched within the community for a place where her son could freely explore all the possibilities art had to offer. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find a place. So when a friend told her about a storefront for rent she explored the possibilities of opening up a studio. With the support and hard work of her husband Tom, together they built Magical Minds Studio. Haj graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors in Art Education and minor is sculpture. She pursued her education at the Erickson Institute where she continues to take classes and attend workshops. Haj is also an active member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance and often communicates with fellow members around the globe to enhance the experience at Magical Minds Studio.
Tom grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Industrial Technology. His passion is building with his hands and mind. We rely on Tom for all our technology and new software needs. When Tom’s not at the Studio you can find him designing packaging or playing with his dog Stella.
Claire lived and worked in the United Kingdom for 10 years, obtaining her Masters in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She has now returned to her roots in Oak Park. Her passion for art and providing exposure to people of all ages has led her to Magical Minds Studio to assist in not only coordinating Studio function, but growing our business as a foundation for widening access to our art environment.
Melina began painting when she was twelve years old. The skills she has developed through the years reflect Melina’s curiosity, experimentation and joy found in her artistic process. People, bright colors, and details are the inspiration for most of her pieces.
Staci comes to Magical Minds with over twenty years experience as an elementary school art teacher. She is passionate about fostering children’s creativity to help them become more confident artists and problem solvers. She earned her Bachelor’s in studio art from Michigan State University and her Master’s in art education from The School of the Art Institute. She loves inspiring young people with a variety of media through play, process and practice. She is a lifelong learner who enjoys sculpting, crochet, gardening and travel. Her perfect world is a place where curiosity and creativity are free to roam and where mistakes are viewed as detours and not dead ends.
“As a fine artist, I am motivated by the idea of empathy. By portraying first person reactions to real-world struggles such as poverty, disease, violence, and immigration, I create pieces that explore different ideas of identity, borders, and kinship to inspire wonder and social action. My themes and approach lend themselves to collaboration, and I am looking forward to working with other artists on dynamic, socially aware, creative projects.”View Portfolio
Robin Dluzen is a Chicago-based artist, art critic and curator, regularly exhibiting her artwork around the country. In 2017, Dluzen will be mounting a solo exhibition at the Evanston Art Center, and will be included in group exhibitions at Heaven Gallery and Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Chicago. Dluzen writes regularly for Art Ltd Magazine and Visual Art Source, and is the Exhibitions Manager at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago. Dluzen received an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Brooke Glaser is an illustrator and children’s designer. She creates home decor items, greeting cards and clothes. She works with hand-rendered and digital techniques. Brooke has taught art in elementary schools, museums and art schools across the country and around the world, including Australia, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Thailand and of course, Chicago.
“I love movement and to explore movement with the body and mind. My works include movement, visual art and contemplative practice in the process. And I have collaborated with different artists to created choreography, performance and video together. I enjoy working with people: children, adult, or anyone who would like to invite creative process into their life. My wish is to share many creative tools that I have found during my artistic journey with them, to provide these tools for expression and for discovering oneself.”
“I have worked as a street artist, watercolorist, printmaker and mosaicist. I am currently teaching at a CPS school on the east side of Chicago called Jane Addams. I work with students outside of the school day to create murals to fill the school with color and thoughtful messages of support.”