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Exhibition showcases work of artists with developmental disabilities

“Walk a Mile in Our Shoes,” a project of the Southeast Works Creative Arts Collective.


Published July 18, 2013

“Crossing Lines: Mind to Minds,” an exhibition resulting from a first-time collaboration between two Western New York agencies working with adults with developmental disabilities, will be on view Aug. 1-9 in the First Floor Gallery of the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.

The exhibition, featuring the work of artists from the Southeast Works Creative Arts Collective and iXpress arts program at Aspire of WNY, will open with a free public reception from 5-7 p.m. Aug. 1 in the gallery. The artists will be in attendance; Southeast Works’ Creative Arts Collective’s Chime Choir will perform at 5:30 p.m.

The exhibition explores what communication means to the artists—whether it is miscommunication, symbols, ways of communicating with one another, or technology used to communicate.

Over the summer, the artists have been creating pen pal artworks, which involve artists at one agency producing drawings, sculptures or paintings during one-week sessions and then sending them to artists at the other agency, leading to a fascinating back-and-forth dialogue.

As part of the exhibition, the artists also will create temporary assemblage installations together in the UB Art Gallery.

Artists with Southeast Works Creative Arts Collective are known for using found materials and objects, and incorporating them into their artwork. The materials they use are discarded from work they are contracted to do at their center: anything from spindles, cardboard rolls, and nuts and bolts to fabric and bulletproof glass scraps. The artists manipulate these materials to create collages, sculpture/found object art, paintings and fabric arts that convey who they are as individuals.

iXpress is an expressive arts program for people with developmental disabilities that focuses on all forms of artistic expression, from painting, clay sculpting and writing to acting, singing and playing musical instruments. Participants are led through an artistic process designed to fuel personal inspiration, improve communication skills and develop a stronger sense of self.

iXpress instructors work with occupational, speech and physical therapists to provide each artist with individualized equipment and methods to overcome their challenges with mobility, motor control, language or learning. Many participants use adaptive artistic equipment, including head pointers instead of hands, adapted computers for writing, adapted paintbrushes, helmets equipped with a paintbrush or other adaptive techniques.

Both Southeast Works and iXpress emphasize that their individuals are not disabled artists, but artists with a disability.

“Crossing Lines: Mind to Mind” is free and open to the public. Summer gallery hours are 1-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

For information, call 645-6912 or visit the UB Art Galleries website.