Maria Maneos earned her Bachelor’s of Fine Art Degree from Arcadia University located in Glenside, Pa and accomplished her Masters of Fine Art Degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts located in Philadelphia, PA. Her paintings have been shown extensively in the Philadelphia area in such galleries as Artists’ House in Old(e) City and Art in City Hall as well as some galleries in the New York Metropolitan area.
In 2013 she started the now nonprofit program, Brush with the Law. The idea to start this: (1) stemmed from her work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Rehabilitation located in Philadelphia where she developed and implemented a class and worked with the patients (elderly, stroke victims, disabled veterans, dementia) of the facility using the arts for therapeutic purposes, and (2) her son’s unforeseen addiction to heroin that inevitably led to his arrest, conviction, and sentencing to prison for a non-violent offense.
Visiting him in jail brought to light for her the lack of, or for the most part nonexistent rehabilitative programming absent within most of our country’s overcrowded and overburdened prison system. Her son’s experiences shattered Maria’s illusions concerning the rehabilitative goals enshrined in the charter of correctional institutions. She soon learned that inmates for the majority of the day have few – if any – emotional, educational, or social outlets, to help alleviate, and lessen feelings of self-defeat, depression, and cynicism that ultimately further entraps them in a cycle of crime and drug addiction.
Brush With the Law started in 2013 as a simple idea for an art program inside of the county jail of Montgomery County, PA and has since grown. We now work with professional artists who lead and guide socially marginalized people such as parolees/probation, those afflicted with drug addiction, behavioral and mental health, disabled veterans, at-risk youth, and many more people doing city beautification projects like murals and site-specific art installations throughout Montgomery, Bucks, and Delaware Counties in the Southeaster region of PA doing community service. Our work is meant to inspire meaningful changes and lasting improvements in the critical social issues affecting these populations and to inspire positive change in thought from society as a whole in their views and interpretations of them. Brush with the Law has received Pollination Project Seed Grant and Impact Grant funding in support of their work.