(Drawing by Chris Al-Aswad of his mother )
In 2005 Chris Al-Aswad created Escape Into Life to share his writings as well as the kind of “outsider” art made by his late mother Rosalind Al-Aswad which inspired him. Chris received education at Hamilton College and graduated DePaul University with highest honors in English literature. He became very proficient in editing and writing helping teachers and tutoring students at Heartland Community College until 2008. Chris then devoted constant attention to blogging and social media as a web developer and web marketing consultant.
In October 2008 Chris redesigned EIL to look like a cafe social with a dark orange header and a chalkboard for listing Daily Specials, including: his poetry, and graphic novel, featured artists, essays, reviews and links to the Blog of Innocence. It was here EIL became “a literary arts blend for poets and sages”.
In April of 2009 Chris started receiving a higher volume of traffic, 200-300 visitors per day, as well as submissions for publishing. It was that he started connecting with other writers through Blogger and Twitter to help him publish artists, poetry and essays on Escape Into Life.
As Chris continued to inspire his growing readership, he connected with thirteen writers whom would become a part of the foundation for Escape Into Life’s new chapter in October of 2009.
The new Escape Into Life website was given an LLC in September of 2009. Chris started planning and development of a new Escape Into Life with an on-line art store. The team, along with Chris, discussed a new site design for EIL. A vote was taken. Chris’s web designer would help combine two interfaces into one. The clean looking teal and gray colored website soon became the talk of artists on Twitter and Facebook alike. So much in-fact that he was catching the attention of bigger art publications.
Into the summer of 2010 EIL was on a roll with 25K visitors on average and exceedingly higher on weekends. Along with publishing artists and literature, Chris added Art News, Music, and Movie reviews to his publishing.
In July of 2010 tragedy struck when the news of Chris Al-Aswad’s passing spread throughout twitter, Facebook and other social media. The outpouring of condolences and support for Chris’s Escape Into Life was overwhelming. The tributes to Chris grew astonishing. The question of continuing on with Escape into Life lay in the hands of Chris’s family.
With the support of Chris’s father Basel Al-Aswad and sister Mandy Al-Aswad, Escape Into Life entered a new chapter. Today, with help from the EIL team and readership contributions, Chris’s website forges on.
Along with Chris Al-Aswad’s memorial observance in July of 2011, Escape Into Life announced the opening of an on-line store. With ever-changing technology and continuing support for Escape Into Life, Mandy Al-Aswad decided to update EIL with the new look and identity you see today.
EIL continues to expand with new writers, contributors and artists growing an ever-larger on-line community. Together, we keep Chris’s life-dream a reality, pushing the boundaries of visual art and literature, blending the two until they become a single work of Visual Poetry.
For inquires, contact mandylsteinmetz at gmail.com