Tag: employment in the arts

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 : 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.

Gateway Arts Studios offer Artists with Disabilities a Place to Grow

2 Shoppers at the Venfen Store

For 22 years I have been coming to work at Gateway Arts. I am still impressed by the successful and tight-knit community that I am privileged to be part of, including over 100 talented artists with disabilities and a dedicated staff of professional artists and administrators who together, help make this premier Art Center shine.

Studio provides outlet and income

Since 1973, talented adults with disabilities from diverse backgrounds have been working at the unique Gateway Arts Studio program located in Brookline, Massachusetts. The studio includes people from 18 to 92 years old, with various disabilities; developmental, psychiatric, head injury, visual and hearing impaired and the full autism spectrum disorders. They live in group homes, with their families, or on their own.

As a service for 35 years of the renowned non-profit human service provider Vinfen, Gateway helps these artists earn profits from everything they create. Pieces are sold in a number of venues including the professionally appointed Gateway Gallery, the freestanding Gateway Craft Store, outside venues, online, and through commissioned installations.

The artist first

Coming from a background of art myself, with an MA in Art History from Columbia University and co-founder of a successful art collective, I feel privileged to be able to witness the remarkable creations that emerge daily from the Gateway studios. Here, we see the art and the artist first. Their disability may be part of who they are, but at Gateway it never defines them.

Many adults with disabilities deal with three limiting issues that Gateway’s unique art-centered program helps to eliminate: Stigmatization, Underemployment, and Isolation. Art as a vocation shepherds people into the mainstream with increased self esteem, by providing them with earnings and offering a nurturing community of other artists with disabilities as both colleagues and friends. To paraphrase, sometimes ‘It takes a studio’!

At Gateway, we make art work.

Join us for our blog next week and an intimate look at the amazing stories of some of the inspirational people who make up Gateway Arts.

About the AuthorMona Thaler

Mona Thaler is the Development, Marketing, and PR Director for Gateway Arts.