Founder & Executive Director
Oona founded Art for Self-Reliance (ASR) in 2007 while she was an undergraduate students in Mumbai styling Psychology. ASR designed programs within the aftercare system to guide healing through sustainable skills and opportunities in art and fabrication, enabling individual empowerment.
In her second avatar, she works with art organizations to articulate and leverage their vision and design their operations. Oona is inspired by leveraging creativity in the service of self and others, along with expanding the influence of art as a channel of abundance and well-being. She believes that art and artists can be made accessible by re-constructing the definition and intent of self-expression itself. Oona is a practicing artist and an art professional. Her practice encompasses ‘gestural abstract’ painting and she has showcased her work in the US, Italy, China and India. Her work can be viewed at oonadmello.com
She has also served on the board of the Wilson Bridge Mosaic and was Board President for the Open Wall Gallery for the 47th Alderman Ward in the city of Chicago and currently serves as an advisory board member for YouUbuntu Foundation. She has been involved in various Chicago Public Schools and community-based public projects. Oona holds two Bachelor Degrees, the first being in Psychology from Mumbai University, and the second in Fine Arts from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Additionally, in service of the development of art organizations, she holds a Master’s of Science in Positive Organizational Development & Change from Case Western Reserve University, Ohio.
In addition to the above, and to deepening her artistic practices, Oona’s attention is on creating frameworks that support artists and help art organizations create structures of efficiency, and innovation at the level of the individual, organization and community through learning art entrepreneurship.
After the psychological and pedagogical studies, she enrolled at the Mosaic School in Spilimbergo and in 2011 obtained the mosaic teacher qualification. She successively attended a year-long postgraduated course of mosaic.She worked together with the School for the realization of the Holy Family mosaic in Pordenone and the renovation project for inside courtyard of the school itself.
After the achievement of the qualification in “museums and art galleries management” at Palazzo Spinelli in Florence she started an internship at Bisazza Foundation in Montecchio Maggiore (VI) during which she’s handled exhibitions end events organization.
In August 2016 she got in touch with the Chicago Mosaic School where she attended a three months training. Since the end of her educational path she has collaborated with some local workshops for the realization of direct and indirect mosaics and she took part in mosaic exhibitions in Italy and in France (Riflessi, Galleria ai Molini, Portogruaro, Italy, 2018; Colour, Lumière, Mouvement de Giulio Candussio, Maison de la Mosaique Contemporaine, Paray-le-Monial,France, 2017; Mvsiva, Loggia of the Town Hall, Spilimbergo, 2011).
She currently teaches mosaic at the Mosaic School in Spilimbergo.
She’s always been interested in art, design and architecture, and in the way the mosaic can match with these fields. Mosaic is an art and its end use can be the framework, the three-dimensional object, the floor and the wall. Like all the arts, mosaic is a vehicle for the personal expression, from the choice of the material to use in relation to its endless shades, to the cutting more or less linear to the combination of many tesserae individually unique but part of a bigger final dialogue.
Lucy Senner is the Administrative Arts Director at the Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics and the Chicago Mosaic School, a non-profit arts education center. She has served as a studio assistant at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and interned at G.R. N’Namdi Gallery in Chicago. Her public relations and social media experience includes campaigns for non-profit organizations including the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Chicago Dramatists. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Lawrence University.
Grace Walsh is an emerging art historian and fine art professional based in New York. Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, she developed an appreciation for painting from a young age on frequent family visits to the Art Institute of Chicago.
After several years charting a professional path in art administration and appraisal, she returned to academia and is currently pursuing her Masters degree from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, with a focus in the medieval and early modern field.
Advisory Board Member
Karen Ami was born in Chicago, raised in Indiana and Illinois. Graduate of The Boston Museum School, Tufts University (BFA, 1986) and The School of the Art
Institute of Chicago (MFA, 1995) major in ceramics and sculpture. In 2005, she founded The Chicago Mosaic School the first and only first Not-For-Profit school for
Mosaic Arts Education outside of Europe. Ami teaches and lectures internationally and is a curator and juror for exhibitions of contemporary mosaics. She exhibits her
works in galleries and museums both here and abroad and her work is part of several international collections. She was the first American artists to be awarded first prize in the Prix Picassiette International Exhibition in France in 2014, and her work, “TEN”, is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Bibical Art, Dallas.
Advisory Board Member
A young professional interested in community causes and social renaissance in Cleveland, Ohio. His current role as Director of Regional Development at the CWRU School of Medicine takes him around the United States to learn what thread connects the alumni doctors and raise money for scholarship. Jude has undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Religious Studies and is finishing up his Masters in Positive Organizational Development and Change. He is fluent in French and laughable but passable in Mandarin. Hobbies include playing guitar, studying Southeast Asian philosophy, and discovering new whiskeys. He lives with his wife, Liz, their dog, Murphy, and their cat, Ephraim.
Advisory Board Member
Per Knutås is the Eric and Jane Nord Chief Conservator at the Cleveland Museum of Art where he oversees a department of 15 conservators and conservation technicians. He graduated from The School of Conservation at the Royal Danish Academy of Art, in Copenhagen, Denmark with a focus on modern contemporary paintings. Knutås worked at the Moderna Museet and the Swedish National Heritage Board, both in Stockholm, Sweden, prior to moving to New York in 1998 to work in the conservation laboratories at the Guggenheim Museum and at the Museum of Modern Art. After four years in New York, he moved to Ohio to work for the Intermuseum Conservation Association in Cleveland, followed by contract work at the Cleveland Museum of Art and private practice. He served as chief conservator for the Cincinnati Art Museum from 2009 to 2012 prior to his current position at the Cleveland Museum of Art. His interest are modern conservation ethics, artist collaborations and conservation outreach and advocacy.
In 2018, Per graduated from Case Western Reserve Universty's Weatherhead School of Management with a MSc in Positive Organizational Development and Change to further his leadership and organizational development skills.
Per ran a gallery exhibiting national and international emerging artist in Cleveland, Ohio in addition to guest curating exhibitions at Kent State University, Zygote Press to mention a few. He was on the advisory exhibition board for the Maltz Museum for Jewish Heritage and is still an active board member of SPACES, an alternative exhibition space in Cleveland, Ohio.
Advisory Board Member
Elizabeth Madigan has spent her career in Human Resources and Organizational Development. She is currently the Director of Human Resources Culture Strategies for The University of Vermont Medical Center. Specifically, she leads the Employee, Labor and Physician Relations and Organizational Development teams. Elizabeth’s approach to work is grounded in applied neuroscience, emotional intelligence and mindfulness.
Elizabeth has her Master in Science in Positive Organization Development and Change from Case Western Reserve University. She is an Executive Coach and certified in multiple organizational development methodologies including change management, appreciative inquiry and the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. Elizabeth is on the Board of Directors of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity
Advisory Board Member
Candace Thomas is a career marketer, content creator, and consultant.
After completing her MA at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Candace's professional career began in the consulting industry, working with national healthcare systems to improve their client & employee experiences. A move to the global marketing agency Jack Morton solidified Candace's love of strategy and smart creative. As Vice President and Account Director, Candace was at the table alongside industry acclaimed creatives and strategists to produce exceptional work for clients including Procter & Gamble, H&R Block, Allstate, and Abbott Pharmaceuticals. Since 2010, Candace has partnered with select clients on premiere marketing & branding projects, founded the popular lifestyle website Luxe...With Kids, been a featured speaker at events and moderator of industry panels, and strategically partnered with brands such as The Four Seasons, Disney, Quaker Oats, L'Oreal, Verizon, and LG Electronics to create unique content.
Candace has lent her marketing expertise by serving on the board and committees of several not for profit organizations, including Make A Wish of Illinois and Houston Children Give Back. Candace lives in Houston with her husband and two young boys.