Because of the summer project I'd done with Camp Friendly, which resulted in kids' work being included in the "Celebrating Abilities" show at Marbles Kids Museum, I was selected to become the first Resident Artist at Raleigh's Wake Enterprises (WE), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to assist people with disabilities to achieve their maximum level of independence. The Residency was a pilot program, and I'm grateful to Betsy Ludwig, of Arts Access, for making it possible.
During October and November, in one-hour sessions twice a week, I worked with adults with disabilities to create a variety of art projects. There were nine participants and four caregivers in each session. Prior to the classes, I was not aware of the types of disablilities of the participants--this was purposeful on my part: I wanted to meet each person, and assess for myself his or her level of ability for the projects I'd planned. The only thing I knew was this group was chosen because they were people who usually didn't get to do anything other than their daily work assignments.
Meeting each participant "cold" turned out to be the correct approach for me, and I learned, right along with everyone else, what they could handle. The WE staff was excellent; helping me and the artists (which is what they became over that short six week period) to create work they're proud of.
At the end of the Residency, we mounted an art show, which was a huge success. The excitement and proud smiles on the faces of artists and audience alike were fantastic to see. It was a rewarding, eye-opening, challenging, way-out-of-my-comfort-zone experience, and as it ended, I realized I had learned more than I taught. One of the unexpected, yet wonderful results of the Residency was the experience of the caregivers who also enjoyed the art projects. They valued the ability to see their clients in ways they'd never observed them before, be creative themselves, and have fun. 'Can't ask for much more than that!
Below are some images of the work the WE artists produced. Enjoy.
|"Kandinsky Trees" and Chihuly-inspired Flowers and Vases|
|More "Kandinsky Trees"|
|Painted Paper Collage|