News / Arts & Entertainment

Artists with Disabilities Showcase Their Talents

Artists with Disabilities Enter Mainstream Through Arti
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
Julie Taboh
April 09, 2014 12:41 PM
Very often people with developmental disabilities are better able to express themselves in images than in words. That’s one of the reasons an art studio in Washington DC has designed a program to help artists with disabilities express and support themselves in a number of creative ways. VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports.
Vanessa Monroe is a visual artist who draws inspiration from the world around her.

Today she’s painting a wooden birdhouse at an art studio in Washington, D.C., that helps artists with disabilities express and support themselves.

Monroe has a mild intellectual disability, the result of a rare genetic disorder. But that hasn’t stopped her from creating intricate, one-of-a-kind-pieces that are in high demand at home as well as overseas. In addition to her birdhouse, she’s also finishing off a colorful watercolor depicting a bride and groom that she created for an international client.

“I finished my commission about two married couples,” she announced triumphantly. “It makes me proud and it makes me feel good inside.”
Visual artist Vanessa Monroe at Art Enables, a non-profit gallery and studio in Washington, D.C.. (J. Taboh/VOA)Visual artist Vanessa Monroe at Art Enables, a non-profit gallery and studio in Washington, D.C.. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Mara Clawson, 22, likes to
create images with nature-based themes.

“I started drawing watercolors since I was two or three," she said. "I just love art.”

Clawson also suffers from a hereditary disease that has resulted in a mild learning disability, but she doesn’t think about that when she’s in the studio with other artists.

“It’s nice and peaceful and we can get along with each other,” she said.

Art Enables

The two women are regular participants in a program at Art Enables, a non-profit gallery and studio in Washington.
"So happy to see you" artwork by Darnell Curtis (Photo courtesy Art Enables)"So happy to see you" artwork by Darnell Curtis (Photo courtesy Art Enables)


​Now in its 12th year, the gallery offers an open, quiet space to about 30 local artists with a variety of intellectual or developmental disabilities that include but are not limited to Down Syndrome, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury and Bipolar Disorder.

The artists come from all backgrounds and ethnicities and range in age from 21 to 78 years old.

Mary Liniger, Executive Director of Art Enables, said the purpose of the program is twofold; “to represent and support our artists and then also to show the different ways that people who are marginalized can communicate through the visual arts.”

Professional artists

The gallery provides the artists with professional materials, their own web page, and marketing support to help them succeed as professional artists. “Our artists have at least 10 shows a year here as well as other shows throughout the city,” she said, “and whenever our artists sell a piece, whether it’s here in the gallery, off of our website or at one of their outside shows, they receive a 60 percent commission from those sales.”

The artists' work ranges from original, framed pieces to mugs, calendars and notecards depicting their work. They also receive numerous orders from around the world.

“We have had buyers as far away as Germany, Japan, Australia,” said Liniger. “Last year we sold over $84,000 worth of artwork and our average piece is around $100.”

“Having people recognize the talents and the skills of these artists is really important,” she added; “it’s a source of identity and of pride.”

Art Coordinator Beth Baldwin is there for support, and to encourage the artists with projects that she thinks are going to be marketable.

“For me as an artist too, just the whole aspect of documenting your work and publicizing your work and getting your work framed and out there into the public is a huge drain on your [re]sources,” she said. “And for our artists to just be able to come in and create and that’s the only thing they have to worry about and concern themselves with, is fantastic.”  

Vanessa Monroe appreciates the support.

“I feel real good," she said, “’cause I’m drawing my art and I’m selling it.”

And that, said Beth Baldwin, is what Art Enables is all about.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kevin from: Australia
April 18, 2014 9:23 AM
Hi VOA
What a lovely article.
Thrilled to inform you that ASD athlete, artist & autism ambassador, Patrick Francis won the National Inspiration Award for outstanding achievement at the Aspect National Recognition Awards 2014 Australia. Well deserved!!! He does FREE art exhibitions promoting disability awareness and assists fundraisers, see more at: patrick-francis.weebly.com
Perhaps he could join forced with this group and do international exhibitions promoting disability awareness.

https://www.facebook.com/AutismSpectrumAustralia/photos/pcb.10152367688221228/10152367676456228/?&theater
http://www.autismspectrum.org.au/news/aspect-national-recognition-awards

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."