Our Leadership Team
Mae Gilliland Wright
Mae holds a Master’s Degree and Doctor of Philosophy in the digital humanities field from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In addition to her position at as Executive Director at Big Picture, she is the Director of Business Development at Peoria Magazines. Mae is also a freelance writer, ghostwriter and consultant, and has a teaching background in the sciences and humanities. Mae currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Public Relations Association of Central Illinois and the City of Peoria’s Public Arts Advisory Commission. In the past, she sat on the Board of Directors for ArtsPartners of Central Illinois, where she served as the Vice President and chaired the Sky Art Peoria committee. She also served on the Board of Directors of Acorn Equality Fund and ART, Inc., along with various other committees with area organizations like Align Peoria and the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. She is a member of Americans for the Arts. In her spare time, Mae enjoys reading, volunteering for community organizations, gardening with her husband Jonathan, listening to music and catching up on podcasts. Email Mae here.
Doug had an early-life experience of winning a prize for a cartoon he drew and it set him on the path of art. Doug had a good role model in his father who worked as a successful commercial artist and funded Doug’s BFA at University of Iowa where Doug studied photography and sculpture.
After 30 years as a corporate photographer for a Fortune 100 company, Doug realized that the inspiration of his childhood art background was still with him and he wanted to make it possible for children today to have art in their lives. He and his wife, Eileen, began by selling their fine art photography and donating their profits to arts organizations . In 2018 co-founded Big Picture Initiative to afford a creative opportunity for others.
Doug serves as President of Big Picture Initiative and enjoys coming up with creative ideas that find fertile ground in the new arts renaissance of Central Illinois. Doug is the artist who created “Abraham Blue,” the 50-foot portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the Peoria County Courthouse, that launched Big Picture in 2018.
Eileen discovered the joy of art early in life and is dedicated to giving everyone the chance to experience and participate in the arts. For the past 10 years, Doug, her husband, and Eileen have donated profits from the sale of their own art to arts organizations. In 2018, they founded Big Picture Initiative to be able to expand the opportunity of art for all.
Big Picture is founded on the belief that public art is essential to a vibrant community and that children should have the chance to help create public art. To that end, Eileen and Doug have partnered with Peoria Public Schools and the Peoria Park District in having artists work with students to create murals for their schools and for public spaces. They also have helped create and install new murals in the community.
Eileen is the secretary and treasurer of Big Picture and is instrumental in pulling together all the artists and arts groups that join together to give the community a day of arts at the Big Picture Peoria Street Festival on the second Saturday of October.
“I think of the festival as one big arts installation with community painting, music, performances, and more. My hope is that people from different walks of life and in different parts of our community come together for the common goal of making Peoria a better place through the arts.” Eileen can be reached at email@example.com
Mark is a proud life-long Peorian, having had a great experience growing up in the Peoria Public School system, before heading off to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana to study architecture. He is an architect and project manager with CORE Construction Services of Illinois, a national company whose offices recently relocated to Downtown Peoria. In addition to serving as Vice President on the Big Picture Initiative Board, Mark serves as the Chairman of the City of Peoria’s Downtown Advisory Commission. Mark enjoys traveling, watching soccer and has been a St. Jude runner for almost 10 years. He is lucky enough to be married to Maggie Whalen Misselhorn, and the two of them enjoy getting bossed around by their dogs, Lola and Norman.
Maggie Whalen Misselhorn
Maggie is a life-long Peorian and is very proud of her community and the people who make it great. She is a Principal/Owner of Simantel, a marketing firm located in the heart of our Downtown on Peoria’s Riverfront. Maggie has been in the marketing field for over 20 years and especially enjoys the community-focused work she has been part of for local organizations like The Peoria Riverfront Museum, Easterseals of Central Illinois, The Peoria Playhouse, Wildlife Prairie Park, and The Peoria Zoo. In addition to Big Picture, Maggie serves on boards for The Peoria Riverfront Association as well as OSF St. Francis. She is married to Mark Misselhorn and the two of them enjoy getting bossed around by their dogs, Lola and Norman.
Heather is a member of the Big Picture Initiative board. She helps Big Picture create arts education opportunities for Peoria to heal and bring joy and hope to our community.
Heather believes that art and design can unite members of the Peoria community who often do not communicate with one another and can create solutions to social problems. She believes that products and solutions created by active, engaged members of the community will be wanted and used–a result of the empowering ownership that occurs in the interactive process. Her goal is to create experiences that will change the way people think, raise awareness, and assist those in need. Ford’s strength and confidence in asking her audience to question social and political issues are evident in her works. She is highly experienced in applying methodologies of user experience design and research to website, mobile, and product development. Heather’s portfolio of work centers on the human condition provoking the audience to face both the beauty of humanity and its ability to cause struggle. She has explored creating innovative and exciting user-centered design experiences, methods, and strategies that involve user interface, user experience, and fine art.
Heather Ford has been a professional in the design industry with fifteen years of fine art, digital creative, and UI/UX experience in the commercial and academic sectors. Ford is an instructor and coordinator of User Experience Design major within the Bradley University’s Slane College of Communications and Fine Art Department of Interactive Media. She has been a designer for several Fortune 500 clients such as Disney, Maui Jim, NASA, AbbVie, Nike, and Home Depot, utilizing a user-centered design approach. She is co-author of “Mastering Mobile Learning: Tips and Techniques for Success” and has been a speaker for Nielsen Norman Group.
Nikki Romain is Co-Founder and Executive Director of ART Inc. She is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a B.A. in Theater. Nikki has an extensive background in the arts as an actor, singer, writer, and voice over artist. She was selected to perform with the well-known Chicago Praise Ensemble and toured throughout northern Italy.
Nikki has performed in musicals and theatrical productions across the country such as “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Wiz,” “Godspell,” “Steel Magnolias,” “For Colored Girls,” and “Shoe Story.” Nikki wrote, produced, and played in her one woman show, “Lost and Found” (a story about how the arts saved her life) at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in Los Angeles and the prestigious Royal George Theater in Chicago.
Using arts and culture as a vehicle, Nikki’s mission in life is to empower the lives of women and youth, which is why she is thrilled to serve on the Big Picture Peoria Board of Directors.
Nikki also serves on the HOI United Way Board of Directors. She is an active member of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Incorporated and the Central Illinois (IL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.
She is married to her soul mate and best friend, Jonathon Romain, and proud mother to the lovely Kennedy Alexandra Romain.
Heather Brammeier is a painter, sculptor, and installation artist whose work continues the function of childhood play into adulthood. Through innovative use of materials and deceptively simple design, Brammeier creates visual puzzles that invite movement in and around the artwork. The artwork tests physical and perceptual boundaries, mirroring emotional and psychological limits. Collaboration and connectivity play a key role in Brammeier’s life as an artist and professor. Past experience includes directing Backspace Collective NFP in Peoria. At Bradley University, Brammeier created an international artist exchange program that brought artists from London to Peoria, in turn giving graduate students a professional artist in residence experience in London. Brammeier created a large installation for Big Picture Peoria’s 2019 Street Festival which is still on view at 1212 SW Adams Street. She also created a collaborative mural for festival-goers that will travel the Peoria area and continue to involve the community. Curator Alice Gray Stites recently selected Brammeier for Furies, Fairies, Visionaries at Pen and Brush Gallery in New York. Brammeier’s most recent award was Best in Show at the South Bend Museum of Art Biennial 29, selected by juror Miranda Lash. Brammeier also won first prize in the 2015 Rooftop Project Space Competition at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago, IL). Brammeier has been selected for a variety of residency programs across the country and internationally, including Yaddo (NY), Spiro Arts (UT), The Hambidge Center (GA), The Banff Centre (Alberta, Canada), and Pontlevoy Creative Residencies (France). Most recently, Brammeier spent three months in residence at International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York (summer 2018 and 2019). Brammeier is a Professor of Art at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.