Born in Michigan, the son of a civil engineer, Jonathan Franklin spent much of his childhood in Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. After studying art at the University of Michigan, he moved to Israel where he lived on a kibbutz and began painting. Later he moved to Tel Aviv where he worked as a printmaker as well as a puppeteer. After moving to Chicago, Jonathan remained at home full-time to raise his children and later worked as a set designer and performer in local theaters.
As a teaching artist Jonathan relates to artmaking not only as a means of creative discovery, but as a form of self-affirmation and validation. He enjoys using simple materials to explore complex ideas and create artwork that is fun and compelling for the students. Much of his work is connected to math concepts; whether studying forms of symmetry, simple geometric shapes, or 2-point perspective, he encourages students to aim high and to keep asking questions.
Jonathan has taught in dozens of public, charter, and parochial schools throughout Chicago for the past 15 years, creating programs that incorporate elements of math, literacy, and design, from shadow puppetry to mural making. He has been a visual artist for almost 40 years, concentrating mainly on painting (oil on canvas) and works on paper (drawing, collage, weaving). He is a former recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship.
See “sample images” for artwork by Jonathan’s Urban Gateways students.