Drawstring Magazine – Artist Spotlight

March 2, 2021 By anne-cauley

March 2020

“Arts of Life is a wonderful collaborative community for artists with developmental and intellectual disabilities providing a supportive and uplifting environment in which to further their art practice and strengthen their leadership. I began volunteering here in 2012 and have enjoyed it immensely. It is equally enriching and inspiring for me, as it is for the artists. I assist the artists with their work, offering techniques, ideas and physical assistance when needed. A couple of years after I started, we began an Art Talk group, which consisted of art history, principles of art and group critiques. 

A few years later, I noticed some of the artists dabbling with words in their artwork and thought about combining the two realms of language and visual art. At the end of 2017, I started the Poetry Group so that our artists could have an additional way to express themselves and honor their creative practices. I had no idea how successful it would be.

It has been a wonderful journey with the artists. We gather weekly to write poems inspired by their drawings and paintings. Sometimes we have good focus and sometimes not, but we always laugh and enjoy the collaboration. The pandemic has added new challenges to this process. Presently we meet and write on Zoom, which has its benefits and its inherent limitations. The silver lining is that we are collaborating with The Chicago Studio, and have had the pleasure of several new artists joining our group. So far we have completed three printed collections of poems featuring the poem next to the accompanying piece of visual art work. Here we are sharing a small collection of poems recently created collaboratively by our artists at Arts of Life.”

~ Cindy Shanker