Featuring Maria Alcantara, Bin Feng, Keenan Foster, Teresa Harris, Rayed Mohommad
Arts of Life is a non-profit founded in January 2000, with a shared vision to create a working, person-centric, artistic community while providing a work environment of equality in Chicago. Motivated by founding artist Veronica Cuculich, Arts of Life grew from a passion for artistic expression and a need for an alternative system. For artists at Arts of Life, a career in the visual arts is an opportunity for meaningful employment. Each artist has their own studio space and works independently from individualized project plans or receives 1:1 visual arts facilitation to increase their artistic skill set. Artists earn a monthly stipend for participation in the program with eligibility to receive bonuses based on personal annual art sales.Today, we have two professional art studios and represent over 60 artists with varying levels of physical and intellectual disabilities. Each studio is 6,000 square feet and includes a community gallery that is open to the public.
Ariée Carter (b. 1955)
Ariée (also known as Aria Carter) has a singular vision for fashion and passion! Her artwork is rife with haute couture references interspersed with youthful, pop culture iconography. Her compositions construct narratives around this unexpected juxtaposition of high andvlow-brow cultural fixtures.
“I want to be professional about fashion illustrator, fashion designer, and fashion model. Selling artwork about this. I just draw all these Scarlet O’Hara dresses which I stole in my vision. I was going to draw Black Lives Matter. I just want story about the middle school racism. All the grades.” Ariée works with complete focus and confidence. She skillfully balances compositions, exercising restraint to preserve and craft thoughtful negative space that accentuates her designs. An undeniable playfulness manifests in vivid colors and functionally counterbalances the seductiveness of her imagery.
Alex Scott (b. 1987)
Alex Scott was born in 1987 and is a Chicago native. Known for his use of simplified forms and flat, bright colors, Scott’s fresh, direct approach to drawing and painting embodies a sense of nostalgia. His preferred materials are ballpoint pen, colored pencils, markers, and acrylic. Scott’s influences range from cartoons and comics to classic mystery-comedy movies to children’s books, often inspired by favorite books he once read – The Phantom Tollbooth, Sam and the Firefly, In a People House by Dr. Suess, as well as books found in the studio. Neat arrangements of recurring characters, household objects, numbers, text, and
symbols are frequently organized by letters of the alphabet and at times appear reminiscent of hieroglyphics. He often repetitively recreates past drawings or characters from memory with ease and accuracy, which results in slightly shifting iterations over years. This ongoingbody of work exists across both individual works on paper and series of drawings within distinct sketchbooks.
“My favorite things to draw are [the] sun, clouds, grass, hippos, dolls, characters, people, birds, mice, skeletons, woodpeckers, wiener dogs, and spotted dogs. People like that I do different characters. I would rather make art than do anything.”
Maria Vanik (b. 1970)
Born in 1970, Maria is a lifelong Chicagoan. While she has an extensive background in experimenting with fiber and sculpture materials, she’s currently focused on a prolific studio practice based in drawing. Vanik expands on references ranging from found imagery to pop culture to personal memories through the inclusion of patterns and vibrant colors, paired with a distinct approach to symbolism and mark-making. She has been a member of Arts of Life’s Chicago studio since 2017.
“I like to make artwork. The colors are very very bright. I like to use markers to draw raindrops, a rainbow, a tree. Next time I will do it different. I like to start with a white blank background. I like to use bright colors with dark colors. I like to use a lot of them, and mix them together.” Maria’s work has been included in Circle Contemporary group exhibitions, including Entrelazar, All Well and Good, and Electric Pink Lemonade.