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Conviction: Tales through story, song, and art

A teacher, a songwriter, a First-Generation American, a rugby player, a screenwriter, a dance-o-holic, and a bank robber.  Join this motley crew of artists as they share stories with their most powerful weapons: their art.


About the artists: 


After decades of drug addiction and crime, Paul Kowalewski (DADA obscura) was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to 7 years in prison. Locked in confinement and no longer able to sedate himself, he found a new outlet on paper and canvas. Having no formal training and with no instruction, he began to create images and transformed himself into what he was perhaps always meant to be: an artist. Paul was named runner up for best new visual artist in the Chicago Reader’s Best of 2013 issue.

Karina Lepeley is a singer-songwriter who loves the communities that surround performance and creativity. She enjoys singing originals, covers, and songs in different languages. She also performs with the Chicago World Music chorus.

Crystal Coats is a convener. Her greatest skill is bringing together diverse perspectives through her work with the community, friendships, and occasionally even her writing. Crystal is currently an assistant director at the University Community Service Center at the University of Chicago, and is married to the dead sexy writer, Aaron Coats. She is also afraid of ghosts. 

 Aaron Douglas Coats is a South Side Chicagoan who both loves and fears for his city. He both loves and fears for young people in this country, which he both loves and fears for. He sometimes loves that he has three degrees all related to writing, but he sometimes fears the actual writing. He strives to be a published short story fiction writer, essayist, novelist, and/or screenwriter because he both loves and fears what words can do.

Anthony Ramirez is a Chicago-native with a B.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Former Boy Scout, avid music pirate and concert junkie, he tries to represent what he feels isn't always represented in Chicago and in media.

Luminarts Fellow and recipient of the Franklin H. Williams award for community service, Cecilia Villarruel loves storytelling and making a difference, so she can think of nothing better than making a difference through storytelling.


The North American Nate (Nathanius amabilis), seen here in his native habitat, is a bipedal mammal whose range includes large portions of northern Illinois.  An omnivore, Nate's diet consists mainly of bread, cheese and meat, a steady supply of which is rea

dily found throughout his Chicago habitat.

Nate is considered endangered by the IUCN owing to his low birth rate and self-destructive mating habits.