The ArtLifting Collection
Area Environments is delighted to collaborate with ArtLifting. This capsule collection features four pieces created by ArtLifting's partner artists: Juan Bonilla, Allen Chamberland, Tim Strouss, and Marc.
ArtLifting was founded in Boston in 2013 by siblings Liz and Spencer Powers. After leading art workshops at homeless shelters, Liz realized that exposure to a national audience had the possibility to transform the lives of these artists, who were homeless or living with disabilities. ArtLifting creates opportunity, empowerment, and validation – and the chance for artists to secure income through their talents. ArtLifting partners with artists from 20 states across the U.S., whose works have been purchased by individuals and Fortune 500 companies alike.
"It makes me feel good when people enjoy what I do."
Despite physical disabilities that limit his financial opportunities, Allen wholly devotes himself to making intricate and beautiful papercut works. He says that his motivation to create work is to “keep busy and make people happy.”
Each of Allen’s pieces is made with a single sheet of black paper. He chooses to create his work out of paper because it is inexpensive. He explains, "You don’t mind if you mess it up. If you do, then you just crumple it up and get a new piece of paper." Allen’s artwork takes incredible patience and vision. He loves selling through ArtLifting because it allows him to share his vision.
Juan Bonilla uses art as therapy to help him communicate. He shares, “When someone looks at a painting of mine, I hope for them to see life unfolding, movement, energy, color, shapes, and form. My art speaks to people in a way I could never compose in speech.”
Juan is looking forward to selling his artwork through ArtLifting so that people who purchase it can incorporate it into their own life stories. Reflecting on his past, Juan shares, “I like including mistakes because it is a reminder that life can’t always be perfect. It teaches you to look beyond the top layer and discover true merit underneath the layers and mistakes."
Juan creates his artworks at Hospitality House, a shelter, drop-in center, employment program, and community arts studio located in San Francisco's Tenderloin District.
“Art gives me the direction that I've lost; a direction that always starts with a color, grows into a terrain of texture, and sometimes isn't found until the last stroke.”
After twenty years of intense structure in the corporate business world, Marc experienced the abrupt onset of MS. Suddenly, the dynamic thinking and fast paced problem solving that had consumed his day to day challenges at work began to slip away. With the need to find a structural replacement of the challenges he sought from his day to day work, Marc's doctor recommended to find new challenges in a creative outlet. Art became that creative outlet. What many would think the diagnosis of a debilitating disease would seem crushing, Marc turned a new passion into an unrealized opportunity and took to the canvas.
It wasn't long until Marc learned to listen to his need to create and his love of vibrancy, he began to use texture as a platform for color and his motivation to rise out of bed in the morning. As Marc creates, he can easily change his perspective, adding and extracting color to create a layered terrain like human character. The textures connect the colors like Marc hopes his perspective will help connect others. Marc paints with the belief that connecting with each other through sharing perspective is vital in today's age. With so many questions about the future and as his speech progressively labored, Marc relies more so on the growing layers, texture and color of his paintings to express his personal process.
By engaging actively his artistic process, Marc is learning to test new boundaries everyday and fulfill past challenges by creating art. He often works on multiple pieces at one time, giving time and attention where he feels it is needed. Often his paintings start with only a color, then evolves to adding texture, continually building direction, layers, and dimensionality until Marc knows it is time for the one last stroke. Some of his paintings have taken years to complete as they are always created with strong attention to detail and care for the final expression they will produce.
A native of San Jose, California, Tim began painting six years ago. Following complications from a surgery in 2008, Tim was left with partial paralysis on his left side. He has use of one arm and walks with a heavy limp when not using his wheelchair. When discussing painting as a form of self-expression, Tim says, "it's cathartic, challenging and engaging. Over the years, creating and painting have served to illustrate things about myself or my life in a way that nothing else does."
Selling the artwork he creates has special significance for Tim. He elaborates, "When someone says in essence, ‘I want to decorate my life and personal space with something of your thoughts, emotions, life, personal story, etc., and I’ll pay you for it, that validates, motivates and vindicates me. Overall, selling my art makes me feel honored and appreciated. And, it allows me to make more art!"