Chloe Perkis always was interested in art, but it took Harold Washington College (HWC) to help turn their passion into a profession.

The 28-year-old, who identifies as nonbinary, grew up in Forest Park and attended high school in Minooka, Illinois. After they graduated, they attended Columbia College to study art, but they weren’t financially or emotionally ready for school at that point.

After withdrawing from Columbia, Chloe worked as a babysitter and a nanny as well as at Chicago Children’s Museum. The museum allowed them to work with kids, which they enjoy, and also stay connected to art. As a play and learning facilitator there, Chloe helped children learn art and dance.

When a coworker decided to start the Chicago Tinkering School, which allows kids to build without limitations and in experimental ways, Chloe joined the staff as a creative and programming director.

Like many students who are out of school for a few years, Chloe was hesitant about returning to college. That fear was conquered after they did well in their first English class at HWC in the fall of 2012. They continued and thrived at HWC, in part because of mentor and instructor Heather Coffey. A turning point came when Chloe’s mold of a rubber chicken won an award. “Believe it or not, being recognized for that rubber chicken is when I knew I could make a career in art,” Chloe said.

When Chloe earned their associate degree in fine arts from HWC in 2017, they hit the ground running and immersed themselves in art opportunities. Chloe tables at any place where artists can sell their work; they have self-published an alternative comic that focus on gender identification and have publishers waiting for books from them. Chloe attends 8-10 conventions per year all over the country and Canada where they display their work, and they have also made T-shirts and more that are available through their website ( and Instagram (@chloeperkis).

Chloe serves as a teacher’s assistant at HWC and aims to one day teach full time at the college level. Before that, though, Chloe will continue to follow their passion and eventually return to school (again) to complete their bachelor’s degree.

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