North Shore Studio: A Year in Review

January 11, 2018 By vincent-uribe

As we say goodbye to 2017 and welcome in a new year, it’s fun to look back on our favorite moments. The studio is a very busy place and when we’re caught up in the daily hubbub, it’s easy to forget how much we’ve accomplished. 2017 was quite a year! Here are some highlights…

We explored the art scene with a field trip series that included The Museum of Contemporary Art (Murakami exhibition), National Museum of Mexican Art, The Art Institute, Expo Chicago, a studio visit with artist Tim Lowly and a live performance of “A Flea in Her Ear.”

Our 6th Annual Square Foot Show was the largest to date, with more than 137 works, including international artists from Russia, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Netherlands, India.

Artists’ work was included in the group exhibition A is for Artist at Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, curated by neuropsychologist Scott Hunter. A is for Artist recognized that “the creative activities of artists who have neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disabilities are as deeply representative of the wider community of contemporary practices that define the visual arts in the 21st century, as they are reminders of the capacity for making that is inherent in being human.” Two artists from The Arts of Life community spoke about their work in a live panel discussion at the museum, followed by a performance by Van Go Go.

We began a partnership with Carson’s Furniture Gallery, providing rotating exhibits to their Wilmette location throughout 2017. Each exhibit included a public reception which exhibiting artists attended with friends and family. Our partnership with Carson’s will continue in 2018 and expand to include four new store locations.

The Waisman Foundation accepted work from multiple Arts of Life artists into their permanent collection, on display at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Waisman is “dedicated to advancing knowledge about human development, developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases throughout the life course.” The foundation plans to publish a catalog of their collection in 2018 and will curate an exhibition to accompany the book launch. Stay tuned for details! Artists Chris Viau and Ted Gram-Boarini were included on, a website that “empowers artists living with homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork.” Chris and Ted’s work continues to be available for purchase through ArtLifting and we hope to expand our partnership with the website to include more artists from our community. We expanded our merchandise! We launched two new series of notecards and one series of buttons. More to come in 2018!

We had 21 volunteers and interns in the studio community in 2017, sharing 1,325 hours of their time with us. With just four full time employees and one part time studio assistant, The Arts of Life North Shore studio relies heavily on volunteers for help with everything from building maintenance to art demos and weekly programming. Our studio community couldn’t thrive without them!

Physical Therapy intern Jamie Yuen worked with artists to create Soul Squad, a Zumba-style dance troupe. The group developed a dance fitness video for the studio to use when we need to work off some extra energy or burn some calories. Since her practicum at The Arts of Life North Shore, Jamie has completed her education and is officially a Doctor of Physical Therapy! We’re so proud of her accomplishments and so grateful for the time and energy she put into the studio! Our Drama Group continued to meet on Fridays in 2017, under the leadership of long-time volunteer Maria Palmer. Together, they put in more than 50 hours of in-studio work. In addition, Maria spent countless hours editing Drama Group’s short film (premiered at the Awards Show in July) and holiday radio play (debuted at our annual holiday party). Thank you, Maria!

The artists have often asked about writing as an art form, but we’ve never had a successful writing group… UNTIL NOW! Long-time volunteer Cindy Shanker heard artists’ request for writing opportunities and worked with them to develop a weekly Poetry Club. Each week, the club looks at artwork by one of the studio’s artists and collaborates on a poem about the piece. In 2017, they completed 19 poems, presented a selection of their work at our annual Awards Show and began working on a book of poetry. In addition to Poetry Club, Cindy also continued to lead Art Talk, a weekly discussion group exploring art concepts, history and critique. Diane Turner, licensed therapist and mother of artist Rebecca Turner, shared 12 sessions of GROOVE with us. The dance-fitness program was a hit with artists!

We continued our partnership with ReEmployability, an organization that places injured workers in volunteer positions to build their professional skills while they recover. Antonio gave us 325 hours of his time during his recovery, doing everything from maintenance to arts facilitation. Alejandro spent the last three weeks of 2017 assisting the artists and organizing our space. The help provided by our ReEmployability volunteers is integral to our studio’s success and we’re grateful for all their efforts! Once again, we welcomed local high school students into the studio as Summer Youth Employees. This year’s SYEs were Sheila Cox and Alysa Chiovatero. Together they served 450 hours. The artists put these talented young people to work as their studio assistants. They also helped with exhibition prep, archiving and art demonstrations.

Thank you to everyone in The Arts of Life community for supporting the North Shore studio in 2017.  Whether your dollars or your hours, we’re so grateful. We’re looking forward to all that 2018 has in store!