Christi Furnas • 39
When Christi Furnas was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 25, she found herself unable to hold a job and instead focused inward, deciding she wanted to define herself as an artist. Today, the Minneapolis-based painter, who’s been showing and selling her work locally for 15 years, uses her experience to help others with similar disabilities. As a peer support specialist at Spectrum ArtWorks, Furnas mentors adults with severe mental illness and encourages them to find the artist within themselves.
“I’ve seen a lot of people grow and realize they have talents they didn’t think they had,” says Furnas, who also helps her artists maintain portfolios and prepare for art submissions.
Most important to the queer-identified Furnas is leading by example.
“I live my life and speak my mind,” she says, “and I think that encourages others to do the same.”