Our Leadership Team
Mae Gilliland Wright, PhD
Dr. Mae Gilliland Wright 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 as Executive Director at Big Picture, she is an adjunct professor at Bradley University beginning January 2022. 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 Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation 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, the Public Relations Association of Central Illinois, 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 receiving a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. He was a practicing architect in Peoria for over 30 years before his recent retirement. As an architect, he has witnessed the powerful impact that thoughtful building design and urban planning have in our life quality of life. He has likewise recognized the positive influence of public art in our community. In addition to serving as Vice President on the Big Picture Initiative Board, Mark currently serves as the Chairman of the City of Peoria’s Downtown Advisory Commission. Mark had previously served on the City’s Planning and Zoning and Heart of Peoria Commissions. In addition to those community activities, Mark enjoys traveling, watching soccer and has been a St. Jude runner for over 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, Norman, and Howie.
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 recently retired 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 25 years, with a focus on strategic and creative development for global B2B brands. She is a creative at heart and her love of art began in high school when she began working at a local art gallery. She believes that Big Picture uniquely combines her love of community and art and has immense potential to generate cultural and economic benefits for our community.
Maggie especially enjoys the community-focused work she has led for local organizations like The Peoria Riverfront Museum, Easterseals of Central Illinois, The Autisim Collective, The Peoria Playhouse, Wildlife Prairie Park, and The Peoria Zoo. Maggie has been honored as a 2014 recipient of 25 Women in Leadership Award, 2013 recipient of Mayor’s Outstanding Community Service Award, Vice President of the Peoria Riverfront Association, Team Lead or Global Branding Committee, AMIN Worldwide, and member of OSF St. Francis Community Advisory Board.
Maggie’s past community involvement includes volunteering for Peoria Humane Society, St. Jude Running Central to Peoria Run and Peoria Fine Art Fair. She is married to Mark Misselhorn and the two of them enjoy getting bossed around by their dogs, Lola and Norman and Howie.
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.
Paroma is a STEAM advocate working at Caterpillar as a project manager with a masters degree in electrical engineering. Since moving to Peoria over 15 years ago, she is eager to share more about the city’s easy access to a diverse arts community, strong volunteer network, and rich history.
Currently serving as board president of the Center of Prevention of Abuse, she is also past president of the Society of Women Engineers Central Illinois Professional Section, part of Impact Central Illinois, and an active member of the Peoria Print Club. In the Caterpillar Asian Indian Community she led “Experience India” fundraisers for the Center for Prevention of Abuse that included a dance collaboration with the Mythili Dance Academy and Central Illinois Ballet.
Outside of work and volunteering, Paroma enjoys sharing her love of printmaking, craftsmanship, hiking, reading, dance, live music and travel with her husband and son. She is never bored.
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.
Jessica Bingham is an artist, curator, and mother. Her artwork has been exhibited at The M cLean County Arts Center, Bloomington, Illinois; Contemporary Art Center of Peoria, Peoria, Illinois; Woman Made Gallery, Chicago; Neon H eater, Findlay, Ohio; Public Space One, Iowa City; Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa; and Heartbreaker, Peoria, Illinois, among others.
Bingham is the director and co-curator of Project 1612, an artist-run experimental space in Central IL co-founded in 2015 with Alexander Martin. Together they have co-curated nearly thirty exhibitions and have organized several community- based film screenings and fundraisers. Additionally, Bingham has curated solo and group exhibitions at University Galleries of Illinois State University; Super Dutchess (currently Below Grand); and Illinois Central College; as well as supervised exhibitions and the Campus Artwork Project at Bradley University Galleries. She is currently serving on the board of pt.fwd, a not-for-profit organization based in Bloomington, IL presenting performances of contemporary music and sonic arts.
Bingham studied abroad in Florence, Italy in 2011 at Linguaviva School of Italian Language and Charles H. Cecil Studios. She earned her BA in Studio Art in 2012 and completed a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow ship in 2013 all from Monmouth College. She completed her MA and MFA in Painting at Bradley University in Peoria, IL in 2014 and 2016. H er work can be found at JessicaBinghamArt.com.