Illinois artist of the month: Matthew HoffmanMatthew Hoffman is a Chicago-based artist and designer whose public works have been exhibited internationally. Hoffman has been featured in a segment on the Oprah Network and his ideas and work have been included in Good, the New York Times Magazine and Ready Made. He has also been published in books.

Hoffman is the custodian of You Are Beautiful, a project to better the world in little ways. The message has reached every corner of the globe, with over 2 million stickers shared. The hope is for us to share uplifting thoughts with each other.

Hoffman was recently recognized in the New City's Design Top 50: Who Shapes Chicago 2014 (March 2014), and was awarded Best Established Artist in the Chicago Reader's public poll (June 2014). For more information on Hoffman and his work, please continue reading.

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u of i carols

As final exams wind down for the semester at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, students in one dormitory are on their way to shattering a joyful holiday record 56 years in the making.

U of I students in Snyder Hall have been operating the Dial-a-Carol hotline for a week in December every year since 1960. People from all over the world phone the hotline – 217-332-1882 – to be serenaded by students who will sing a requested holiday carol to each caller.

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reading

Are you looking for that easy stocking stuffer? Maybe you are looking for some new books to read with your child during the holiday season? Well how about these Illinois-based books as some potential ideas for this year’s gifts.

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bobcat museum

The remains of an ancient bobcat hidden away in the collections of Illinois State Museum was among Archaeology magazine’s top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2015, along with the world’s oldest pretzel in Germany, a Bronze Age bride in Denmark and some of humankind’s earliest stone tools in Kenya.

The skeleton of the young bobcat was excavated during a major highway project in the Lower Illinois River Valley in the 1980s. The remains, found at Elizabeth Mound in western Illinois and dating to roughly the time of Christ, were put into storage after being hastily labeled as those of a “puppy” from a possible dog burial by ancient Hopewell natives.

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Illinois artist of the month: Cat ClausenBorn in California, Cat Clausen spent her childhood as a budding artist, making her own jewelry, pottery and clothing.

After graduating from college, Clausen worked in marketing, public relations and art direction for 10 years. She left her career in 1993 to become a stay-at-home mom and moved with her husband and 3-year-old son to Dwight.

It was here in the Land of Lincoln where Clausen would pursue her passion for art. She took up oil painting and has made portraits of musicians and education and political leaders, including her beloved Abraham Lincoln. Clausen is known for her Lincoln paintings, which have been featured on the cover of magazines and on banners throughout Chicago.

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