‘When I first met Evan La Ruffa, I knew this partnership was going to be one that would grow and build over the years. His passion to bring art to communities to empower youth, and provide accessible art to underserved neighborhoods immediately made it a solid 100% I would be working with IPaintMyMind.”

- Sam Kirk

Sam began her relationship with IPMM through their Shared Walls™ Program, which aims to empower communities through art, expression, and connection. Where art is presented, what are is presented, how much it costs, and a myriad of other factors can make art feel aloof, silly, or impractical.

IPMM connects artists, businesses, and underserved neighborhoods. By creating a model focused on mutual benefit, IPMM turns art into impact.

Over the past few years, Sam and Evan have worked together to create some fun programs for various Chicago Communities.

I Paint My Mind_Sam Kirk.jpg



Bateman Elementary hosted an art exhibition of Sam’s work in their school hallway AND put the curriculum guide into practice. When she arrived to meet the students at Bateman, she was blown away. The 2nd grade students had been studying her art practice and learning about the topics Sam shares in her work.

When she walked in the first thing she noticed were drawings hung all around the classroom - individual portraits celebrating who they are and the communities they come from, in a style that was clearly inspired by Sam’s artwork. “It’s one of the best feelings and a true honor to see youth learning about my work, while I am alive and can seen and feel the appreciation, and witness the impact.”

When she walked into the classroom, several hands went into the air with questions about her process and who she is as a person. “I hadn’t even begun my presentation and they had questions!”

The Sam Kirk Classroom 2nd Grade Art Class take-over included a show and tell presentation about hoe to make a mural, followed by a mini-mural workshop that she completed with the students, and ended with a sticker give away.


“Later that evening, I checked my social media and saw posts from parents of the students I visited today. They were expressing how excited their children were to meet me and the gratitude they had for this opportunity. When I was a kid, I would have given anything to see someone who looked like me in a profession I aspired to be. To be one of those people today, is a major gift.”

I have dozens of hand written notes from the students of Bateman Elementary on my desk at my studio. I plan to read and respond to each one of them.

Rotating art at the Breakthrough FamilyPlex on West Carroll near Garfield Park in Chicago, IL.

IPaintMyMind x Breakthrough FamilyPlex Shared Walls Art Program

“The Breakthrough FamilyPlex is designed to support Garfield Park residents by empowering them to live fuller, healthier lives; and their children by inspiring them to envision possibilities they didn’t see before.”