Perhaps it was because she was born on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, an important waterway for cross-cultural trade and the birth of great civilizations, that Arica Hilton brings a passion for our earth and its inhabitants to her life as an artist and global advocate.
Whether she is trekking the hiking the Himalayas to experience the country’s culture or cage diving with great white sharks off Guadalupe Island, Hilton is driven to pursue first-hand encounters with people and their living environments.
The seeds for Hilton’s dauntless pursuits were sown early. At six-years-old she moved to the United States, not knowing a word of English. Her sense of displacement had a lasting impact, prompting a search to uncover where she belonged in the world. Hilton determined early on that her most illuminating pathway would be the road less taken – a pursuit that continues today.
Near and far, Hilton seeks the unique and uncommon. Her adventures have included 22 visits to Asia. She has swum, run and biked her way through triathlons. And she has worked with former gang members to offset violence with creativity. Hilton’s art and global advocacy are informed by the different schools of thought and cultures that she continually encounters.
Hilton’s own artistic pursuits began with writing poetry and expanded to painting when she began to illustrate her poems. Her artistic evolution sparked an interest in the realm of creation, and she discovered mathematics, physics, quantum mechanics and string theory. Her studies solidified her passion for environmentalism when she learned that stars are nothing more than another extension of humanity – that the elements in the bloodstream are the same elements that comprise a star. The interconnection was what Hilton had been searching for her whole life. As Hilton says “We are the same as a star. How beautiful is that?”
Today, Hilton is a visual artist, poet and global advocate who travels worldwide to enrich her life and the lives of others. She is based in Chicago, where she is the president of Hilton Asmus Contemporary, a gallery platform that she leverages to support artists and environmentalists who seek change for a better world.
In addition to representing internationally known artists, Hilton's own multi-media artworks have been exhibited in various galleries throughout the world. Whether it is visual art through paintings or the poetic expressions of language and music, every aspect of her life is geared towards one form of art melding into another.
In recent years, Hilton’s has had numerous exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East and the United States. Her series, I FLOW LIKE WATER, in which she has created a body of works to bring awareness about issues such as the billions of pounds of plastic weighing down our oceans, was exhibited at the BEIRUT ART FAIR; QU ART in Brussels, Belgium; the UNION LEAGUE CLUB of CHICAGO; and the CAUX FORUM for Just Governance and Human Security in Caux Switzerland.
Much like the Luminists, the poetic art movement that captured light as it moved across the American Landscape, Hilton’s works are inspired by the European Romanticists, who depicted cool waterscapes reflecting nuanced skies. She uses that as a springboard, not necessarily concerning herself with traditional landscape. While her work continues to share a feeling of tranquility, calm, and the sense of light piercing a soft, hazy “sky,” she takes on a “Post Luminist” feeling as she refers to a more ubiquitous aspect of nature, reaching beyond the tangible earth, water, sky, to the star forming galaxies of the universe. Hilton’s paintings and installations are intricately woven with her poetry and three-dimensional materials (such as recycled plastics) which transports them to the present while still capturing a timeless quality that is ever present in her works.
Hilton works with architects and developers to create monumental public works such as a recent commission of an 8 x 18 ft painting for the lobby of a LEED Certified Gold building in Chicago. Her current projects include a monumental painting for an architecture and engineering firm that specializes in water and wastewater engineering and utility management consulting. She has also lectured on the art of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese wisdom of achieving balance and harmony in life through art and design.
A former triathlete, Hilton’s adventure travels have taken her to the “Top of the World” in Zanskar and Ladakh, India with a Tibetan monk, as well as treks throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Her recent expedition in the fall of 2018 took her to Raja Ampat, Indonesia, the heart of the Coral Triangle on the northwestern corner of West Papua, New Guinea, which is considered the most biodiverse area on earth.
ELYSIUM–ARTISTS FOR THE CORAL TRIANGLE EXPEDITION:
The expedition, sponsored by Ocean Geographic Magazine, engaged the world’s finest artists, photographers, scientists, musicians, & writers to produce a record of the flora & fauna, sample for micro plastics and document the biodiversity of this region while highlighting the effects of climate change both now and in the near future.The Raja Ampat archipelago is home to more than 1,400 species of fish and 75% of the world’s known coral species, earning it the nickname 'species factory'. The nutrient-rich waters surrounding the islands provide a vital source of nutrition and a basis for local livelihoods, making the protection of Raja Ampat’s ecosystems from threats such as unsustainable fishing practices, overexploitation and climate change, a regional and global priority. Hilton was one of two artists on the expedition selected to document her findings through her photography, videography and paintings.
Among her collaborations with artists, Hilton curated the poetry and wrote the finale poem for DIVINA NATURA, a sound and light installation at the FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY and WORDS at Northwestern University with Italian artist Marco Nereo Rotelli. That same year, her monumental painting, UNIVERSE, Life Unlimited, was the backdrop for MYTHICAL PROPORTIONS, a one-woman play at Theater Wit in Chicago by actress, Nora Dunn. According to Ms. Dunn, "your painting became a character in my play.”
In 2017, UNIVERSE, Life Unlimited, was donated by Hilton’s collector to Mount Sinai Hospital and is currently hanging in the lobby of the Segal Outpatient Center in Chicago.
In addition to curating exhibitions by the world's leading artists and creating her own internationally collected art, Hilton launched a speaker series in the spring of 2016 by partnering with organizations tackling social justice issues which occur globally, nationally, regionally and locally. She supports a number of not for profit organizations by using art as a means to make our planet better through conservation of our environment and by placing value on both human & animal rights.
Her life mission is to explore the world to bring awareness to issues that plague planet earth by searching for solutions that will make our world a better place for our children and our children’s children.
Hilton lives in Chicago but travels throughout the world for her art.
• Advisory Board of Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center
• Spokesperson for GREENHEART INTERNATIONAL, a global nonprofit that connects people and planet to create global leaders through a unique and diverse collection of programs.
• Art Ambassador for WOMANSCAPE.COM, a network of diverse writers providing stories about women in history, the arts & media, or women championing progress in our modern world.
• Former president of the board of the Poetry Center of Chicago
• President’s Circle Member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
• Member of IWA (International Women Associates)
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"As an artist my interest lies in the expression of the inexhaustible combinations of a visually aesthetic and spiritual language that transcends worlds. Specifically, I explore free organic forms through the layering and sensual deployment of color by evoking the rich spectral underpinnings of the simplicity and richness of the earth and its universal counterparts. There is no set agenda for these ideas, as they are born of the immediate response of each brushstroke to another, catching the pure moment of expressionistic mixtures in harmony. The subjects evolve, transforming continuously in their meaning and complexity as the raw emotional presence that such techniques may evoke in the merging of hand, paint, eye and words. Thus, like the tonal qualities in music, my poetry and paintings attempt to touch something universally significant in all human beings, that meditative state of seeking their own light in the reflections and elements of nature and the universe."