The concept of happiness has inspired Schererville resident Arica Hilton to create special works of art.
Hilton's art work is currently on display in a new exhibit titled "The Art and Science of Happiness," running through Feb. 14 at Hilton|Asmus Contemporary, a gallery in Chicago. The gallery is owned by Hilton, who is also a poet, conservationist and global advocate.
"(The exhibit) explores what it means to be happy," said Hilton. She said she hopes the exhibit also "plants positive" thoughts in people's minds and that they will want to "choose" to be happy.
Hilton added with the beginning of a new decade, it's the perfect time to think positive thoughts and keep happiness at the forefront of one's life.
Hilton's works were influenced by the writings and work of Dr. Jay Kumar, who is dubbed the "happiness professor," whose latest book is "Science of a Happy Brain: Thriving in the Age of Anger, Anxiety and Addiction."
Kumar is the co-founder of the Applied Brain Science Research Institute and has done pioneering work in the fields of behavioral health, brain science and the concepts of happiness.
Hilton said her painting "Universe, Life Unlimited" is on the cover of Kumar's latest book.
"I really believe in the marriage of art and science," Hilton said. She said she attended a conference last summer which was all about the art and science of happiness. She learned a lot and was inspired by the speakers in the conference.
Hilton, who moved to Schererville last year, is the mother of two children.
In Kumar's book, the author talks about how happiness is often so elusive to people but if they apply certain principals, they can achieve happiness. His Four C's of Happiness include incorporating the concepts of "Comfort, Contribution, Connection and Compassion."
Many of Hilton's works showcase water scenes, nature scenes and tranquil surroundings. Her work, she said, is "how I express happiness to myself."
"Art is a way to express creativity," she said. Many of her paintings are atmospheric as well.
"There's a lot of water" in my paintings she said, adding that there's such a peaceful nature to water.
Hilton hopes people looking at her paintings will understand a little bit more about what happiness really is and what it means.
"Happiness isn't something we need to chase. Happiness is something that resides within and that we have a choice (about it)," she said.
"I choose happiness," Hilton said, adding as an artist "I can paint my canvas any way I choose." The artist added everything hasn't always been easy in her life but she always tries to look at the more positive aspects of life.
"I know what it's like not to have and I know what it's like to have," she said.
Hilton|Asmus Contemporary features a variety of exhibitions throughout the year. The gallery recently showcased the work of British photographer David Yarrow.