David Hence (b. 1958) is a constant student of art. He captures daily life of the world around him in an effortless painterly style, using color and bold brush-stokes to create movement for each piece. “I hope that when people see my work, they can see themselves,” David said.

David was inspired to start drawing and painting by his mom and brother at a young age, and was encouraged by teachers to hone his skills. “I drew a lot of superheroes and cars, but I drew a lot of thoughts too. I always thought the world should be a place where people felt safe. Unfortunately, growing up, there was not a lot of safety.” As a child, David used drawing as an escape, imagining a world where his mother and siblings were safe. In his drawings, he was king and everyone in his kingdom was safe.

The portfolio he created throughout his adolescence scored him a spot at Chicago’s American Academy of Art. David was unable to continue his art education at that time, however, an art degree has continued to be a goal in his life.

David doesn’t let his mental illness stop him from training and making a living as an artist. He uses local coffee shops and the streets of Chicago as his classroom. “I like to draw people as they pass by, trying to daydream about who they might be, what their reaction to life around them might be. Things happen around you, and sometimes you don’t catch it until later or you don’t catch it at all.”

David sometimes collects his sketches into multi-paned stories and books, featuring characters who find themselves in difficult situations. He observes and records how they react, learn, and reflect on their challenges.

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Project Onward is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to promote art as a powerful tool for understanding and valuing the real and potential contributions of our national population with disabilities.

©2019 by Project Onward

Bridgeport Art Center

1200 W. 35th St., 4th Floor

Chicago, IL 60609

(773) 940-2992