A mother. A wife. A lawyer. An immigrant. After enrolling in one art course at Elgin Community College to allow her daughter access to ECC’s early childhood lab school, Wanchay Itmis adds the title “Artist” to her resume. “I was amazed at what I was actually able to produce,” said Itmis. “And here we are. I am in my last semester at ECC, and if everything goes well, I’ll be graduating.”
Itmis was born in Savannakhet, Laos, and immigrated to Elgin in 1978. She has a bachelor’s degree in English, a minor in Biology, and a Juris Doctor degree. She’s practiced as a lawyer and opened a couple of firms, mainly in the telecommunications and legal industries. After taking her first art history course, Itmis began her journey at ECC toward an Associate in Fine Arts degree, her latest and most surprising endeavor. “When I got into my first show at ECC, and I saw my name on the wall as an artist, that to me was a nod in the right direction that I was pursuing something I love and might develop into something other than being an attorney, a mother, and a wife,” said Itmis.
Through her art courses, Itmis found a love for painting, specifically life drawing with live models in a setting of 7 to 8 other students. Itmis joined the Art and Design club, becoming an active member and club president, where she connects with other student artists from different backgrounds who find common ground through their passion for art. As she moves through her final semester, she’s priming the next executive board of ADC to ensure the club exists into the far future.
Learn more about ECC student artist Wanchay Itmis. She’s lived many lives before finding her passion for art, truly embodying what it means to be a lifelong learner.
What’s something you do outside of ECC? I mean, just getting up in the morning and dropping off a kindergartener. That is commitment! Once I step into ECC, it is like a whole other world. Being a mom is the thing I do outside of ECC.
What did you want to be growing up? A writer, actually. I wrote a lot of short stories and poems through high school. I always thought I would go into creative writing.
What is one that makes your day? Being able to paint. If I carve out time to paint, I feel like I have done something.
What is your favorite meal to cook or eat out? Anything Asian but probably pho. I went to a pho fundraiser, and it was really fun. Lao and Thai or White Pearl for local places we enjoy.
Shout out an ECC staff member or peer! Juan Fernandez because he gave me a shot to join these amazing student artists in the St. Charles Fine Arts Fair, and then the fact that my piece was selected for the student showcase gave me the nudge to go for it and be fearless about putting work out there.