Tag: arts programs

Resources & Programs for Artists with Disabilities in Massachusetts

Paint palette and brushYears ago, while representing INDEX as a vendor at the Federation Conference, I bought a beautiful silk scarf from Jessica Vohs of JessiArts. This scarf is one of my most treasured accessories as I have worn  it to countless weddings and dress up events.

Doing this week’s blog has opened my eyes to other artists with disabilities and the organizations that support them. The following is a list of upcoming events and resources for artists in Massachusetts.

Resources, Exhibitions & Employment

Contact:  Bonnie Kaplan, Cultural Access Director and Boston ARTreach  Coordinator at bsk@vsamass.org

  • Artists Beyond Challenges (ABC)
    A diverse group of artists working with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to achieve professional development, self support, and independence through exhibitions, networking, and marketing.  Contact: Lisa Weber, Program Coordinator (617) 204-3638 or lisa.weber@massmail.state.ma.us.

Art Programs

  • Gateway Arts Brookline, MA
    is a Vinfen art service for over 100 adults with disabilities. Includes fine art, jewelry, pottery, fabric painting, weaving, paper graphics, and folk art. Store, art gallery & studio on site.
    Contact: Gateway Arts at 617-734-1577 or gatewayarts@vinfen.org.
  • Community Access to the Arts  Great Barrington, MA
    Workshops include drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, and set & costume design.  Held September thru May.  Contact: Adrienne Brown, Program Coordinator, at (413) 528-5485 or email  adrienne@communityaccesstotheArts.org. To make an appointment to view the art gallery, call CATA at (413) 528-5485 or liana@communityaccesstotheARTS.org.
  • EMARC’s The Center for Emerging Artists Reading, MA
    Welcomes individuals , ages 22 and up, to explore their artistic talents. Must be DDS and MassHealth eligible. Artwork is available to the general public including paintings, greeting cards, furniture, jewelry, t-shirts and more.
    Contact:  Amy Ruiter, Director at 781-944-4888, Ext. 5037 or aruiter@theemarc.org
  • Special Needs Arts Program, Inc. (SNAP)
    Offers Saturday art and craft classes for adults ages 20+.  Activities include painting, drawing, day work, fabric painting and a variety of seasonal and holiday crafts.  Classes led by Special Education Teacher Michelle Shofield. Contact: Jill O’Reilly at art@snapsing.org.
  •  The Artists of GWArc
    Arts programming has been primarily available to participants in GWArc‘s day programs; now offering future arts programs to all.  Contact: GWArc at 781-899-1344 or recreation@gwarc.org.

Upcoming Event

VSA Massachusetts has partnered with The Kennedy Center to bring the 2012, “Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability” Conference (LEAD) to Boston August 21 – 24, 2012.  Events will take place at The Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, and other locations throughout Boston.  Complete details are available at The Kennedy Center’s website.

Gateway Arts Prepares Young Artists with Disabilities for the Future

Gateway Arts LogoAt Gateway Arts, we understand the need for supporting young people with disabilities through transition. It is a tough time for all of us during these years entering adulthood, and for people with disabilities it can be even tougher.

Yet we have found a creative approach through art that makes a difference. As we have seen time and again, when students at Gateway begin to create, their confidence builds and their potential replaces their disability.

The Power to Grow

Neri, a student at Gateway ArtsOne such student is Neri Avraham, who came to Gateway at age 17. Neri attends Newton High School, loves art and has autism. One of his challenges is patience. Waiting for a bus, for example, would annoy anyone, but for him it’s a real ordeal.

Yet when Avraham paints, he can sit and concentrate for hours. He says it’s allowed him to become more comfortable with uncertainty. He’s currently enrolled in classes at Gateway which help him refine the new behaviors and skills he finds through artwork and channel them into his development as a successful artist and adult.

Neri’s mother, a strong advocate for talented young adults with disabilities, says, “…that to be in a regular society is what pushes people to improve” and, “…that it is better to be a tail of a lion than the head of a small animal”. Gateway gives all young people with disabilities the opportunity to be part of the Gateway family and the mainstream art community with the power to grow to their full potential.

Flowering Through Art

A Painting by Neri AvrahamNeri loves flowers. A recent acrylic work of his has been described as ‘…a sea of flowers in many shades of blue and purple, sprouting up from grass so green it looks like it’s been showered with sprinklers every day’. His works are exhibited and sold in the Gateway Gallery, online, and at outside venues. He is also training to arrange flowers for events at and away from Gateway.

Gateway accepts diversified funding including the Department of Education, the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, the Statewide Head Injury Program, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and private payment. Gateway is a CARF certified service of Vinfen Corporation which provides additional administrative and clinical support.

More information  at www.gatewayarts.org or 617-734-1577/x10 to set up a visit or screening.

Gateway Arts : A Welcoming Community for People with Disabilities

Last week we introduced Gateway Arts, the premier Art Center for talented adults with disabilities on the east coast. Gateway serves over 100 artists through its professional studio program, Craft Store and Art Gallery and provides uniquely arts-based vocational training and rehabilitation where artists receive 50% from their sales.

But Gateway is more than a vocational center; it is a community where people support each other as fellow artists and as friends. The staff of professional artists is adept at guiding both the artistic and emotional development of each individual

Finding Joy in Art

Zakim Bridge Painting by Ruby Pearl
Before coming here, Ruby Pearl was living out of her Ford Escort, painting scenes on discarded trash. Today, she has her own apartment, has sold rights for her work to a textbook publisher, and often has a waiting list for her paintings and commissions.

Ruby says, “I used to paint from negativity and pain, now I’m into the most joyful painting.”

Transformations like this are everyday occurrences at Gateway.

Ruby’s career at Gateway was jump started through funding from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC). Funding through MRC is now available to all artistically  talented individuals with disabilities through Gateway’s successful Artist  Training Program (ATP) so that folks with head injury, mental illness, and other disabilities can explore careers in the arts.

Quiet Eloquence

Molly PiperEvidence of self-expression is everywhere at Gateway as some of the most eloquent artists share their thoughts in new and creative ways. Political sculptures created from wood and doll parts by Gateway artist Molly Piper, for example, demonstrate a profound engagement with current events, even though Piper herself might speak haltingly. Imagine the Iraq conflict represented through an arresting red-splattered collection of trinkets with Bush and Hussein figures presiding over it.

“I just needed to get it out”, said Piper.

Molly works in Gateway’s Main Studio and is funded by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Funding is also available from the Massachusetts Commission on the Blind, the Special Education Division of the Public Schools and private pay.

In two weeks, learn how Gateway is serving youth in transition as new and upcoming artists with disabilities.

For more information on Gateway, go to www.gatewayarts.org or call 617-734-1577.

Special Needs Arts Programs Share a Love for Singing

Last week I shared my personal feelings about music and how it brings people together. This week I have the pleasure of introducing someone who agrees, and decided to do something about it.

Marilyn Abel was a special education teacher at Lexington High School and a professional musician when she first became aware of the need for her students to have a social life.

“We would come in on a Monday morning and talk about what we did on the weekend. All my students could share was a TV program they watched or the fact that they were home all weekend. They needed social activities outside of school, but there weren’t any for them.”

Marilyn knew something had to be done.

A Chorus Begins

Marilyn spoke with her close friend Judy Goldner, also a teacher and professional musician, and they decided to start a chorus.

In November 1982, the Special Needs Arts Programs (SNAP), formerly known as the Special Needs Arts Fund, began with the Sing Along Chorus. Today the chorus has 21 members and 4-5 high school volunteers that meet every Monday night.

Over the years, the programs expanded as additional needs were met.

In 1984 the Sing Along Singers began for older adults with approximately 30 participants still meeting every Wednesday night. For children, the Special Musicians was established in 1985 and continues today under the leadership of Andrew Gentzow, a certified music therapist.

But the thing is it isn’t just about the singing.

“The choruses have become such an important part of their lives; I never dreamed everyone would become so close, including the parents. Over the years when they drove their sons and daughters to chorus, the parents stayed and started their own support group. They are a family. We are a family.”

The Community Sings Along

Yet again, it didn’t stop there. Marilyn and Judy wanted the choruses to share their love of singing with others through community service.

“One of my favorite memories was when the choruses sang in the chapel at Youville, a senior citizen community in Lexington. When we started singing Jingle Bell Rock, some of the prim and proper ladies in the audience joined the choruses singing and dancing in the aisles. It was so heartwarming.”

After 29 years, Marilyn and Judy passed on their management role to Marsha Martin, the current director, in a seamless transition. Marsha’s energy and passion ensure a successful future.

If you or a person you know with a disability like to sing, check out the video SNAP has on their website at https://snapsing.org/video.php

I guarantee you will be singing along in no time.