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Fran Joy

The purpose behind my work is to show the power, strength, and triumph of the human spirit. As I witness the loss of life and humanity throughout the world, I am drawn to those who believe that the power of their faith and the strength of their spirit and character are what truly matters and will make a difference in life. In my own spiritual journey, heavy losses have made each blessing more meaningful and relative to whom I have become. In some images I have emphasized the eyes that are windows to the soul. I’m going for their essence more than their exact look. Some are powerful icons revealing the impact of their experiences, their fortitude, and vision for the future. Other images are meant to convey a message that I hope will make one stop for at least a second to experience one’s own sense of humanity and spirituality.

Some images are based on the power, energy, vibrations, and strength of the female as well as people of color in a time such as this.


Fran Joy is an artist, designer, curator, and life coach currently living in Evanston. Born and raised in southern Illinois, she moved on to New Orleans and then to the greater Chicago/Evanston area. This life experience plus ten years of residence in Los Angeles and frequent visits to New York City have flavored and colored her passion as an artist.

After studying oil painting, creative writing, and drawing at Columbia College in Chicago, Joy combined her own experimentation with the impromptu training she received from independent artists whose work she admired. Joy is known for her images on social justice, women, spirit images, iconic portraits, colorful abstract landscapes, and large designer wood screens and wall mounts. Her paintings usually begin with an acrylic base on canvas or wood followed by oil pastels, which are used with various sponges for texture, blending and intensity. The colors are usually vivid!

Joy has been featured on the cover of Evanston Magazine and has appeared in the Evanston Review and in the Chicago Tribune. She received the Evanston Mayor’s Artist of the Year Award in 2019 for her work on social justice and women. Joy formerly served on the Evanston Arts Council and on the board of Young Evanston Artists!. She now serves on the Evanston Public Art Committee and on the Exhibition Committee of the Evanston Art Center.

Joy completed an artist-in-residency at Garrett Theological Seminary on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus exploring themes of social justice and non-violence; it comprised four exhibitions, and two large pieces remain as part of Garrett’s permanent collection: “Violence Interrupted” and “Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.” Joy also served a residency at Garrett’s Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE) focused on “Women in the Day of Trump.”

Joy curated and produced Justice for Peace, a show at Noyes Cultural Art Center that included spoken word artists, spiritual vocalists, and voter activists. She participated in the traveling Chicago/Evanston exhibit Faces Not Forgotten to shed light on young victims of gun violence. She participates in the Evanston Made group show each year.

Women Speak, Joy’s exhibition and inspirational event celebrating women at the Lorraine Morton Civic Center, drew over one hundred attendees. Her social justice works were featured in the powerful Mudlark/Art of Evolution theatre production I.D.

Joy has exhibited at the Evanston Art Center, the Noyes Cultural Art Center, 1100 Florence Gallery, Curt’s Cafe, Open Studio Project, Garrett Theological Seminary, Artem Gallery, Danon Gallery, Lorraine Morton Civic Center, and Creative Coworking.

Joy has coordinated various art installations throughout the greater metro area, including co-curating SOULWORKS at the Evanston Art Center, a collection of art by both renowned and emerging artists of color.

Fran Joy’s works are in private collections in Evanston; Chicago; New York; Los Angeles; San Francisco; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Seattle; Centralia, Illinois; Arizona; New Mexico; Canada, and New Zealand.

Joy is a proud mom and grandmother who has a long history in marketing and communications. She’s been a gallery director, a liberal columnist, and has over twenty-five years’ experience in life and spiritual coaching.

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