Studio gives support, space to artists with disabilities

February 14, 2010 7:12:43 AM PST
A creative community for artists with disabilities is celebrating their 10th year anniversary with a colorful and expanding future.

The Arts of Life has been providing space for over 60 artists with a variety disabilities.

"The one thing that we really want to stress is this outsider art -- ,art that's fun, that's engaging, that can really challenge your mind -- also can really, really be interesting and fun to look at, especially knowing the stories behind why some of these pieces were created," said Tim Sarrantonio.

Sarrantonio is the outreach coordinator. He says most of the art works are for sale.

"They can range from smaller pieces, $25, all the way up to $600, which is still extremely affordable," said Sarrantonio. "The artists receive a $100 stipend across the board no matter what.'

There are several requirements for this program. You must be an artist and your work must be approved by a committee. There are also funding restrictions.

"Each artist must meet in the State of Illinois said so through that their housing is covered," said Sarrantonio.

Art works are on display all over the Chicago area.

"We have a long term partnership with Starbucks," Sarrantonio said.

Most of the artists come in five days a week, including 29-year-old Gaby Carroll.

"I always wanted to be an artist," said Carroll.

Some of the artists have musical talent. They formed a group called "The Arts of Life Band".

Board member and volunteer Chris McLauglin explains why he enjoys the musical aspect of the organization.

"We have some of the biggest rock stars in Chicago who've played shows at the Double Door, Empty Bottle, and it is a rock and roll explosion,and it's the coolest thing to be a part of," said McLauglin.

Hoping to get more artists with disabilities involved, The Arts of Life has expanded.

"There's a lot of people that come through our program. What is really exciting is the expansion into Glenview, into the North Shore, so that opens up a lot of spaces," said Sarrantonio.

For more information on The Arts of Life and locations go to