The Ohio Craft Museum’s new exhibit will give Ohio artists an opportunity to prove their skills trump their disabilities.
“Shared Vision: Passions of the Human Spirit” will feature pieces created by artists from eight Ohio studios that serve people with developmental disabilities.
Open Door Art Studio & Gallery in Grandview Heights is one of the studios participating. The others are Columbus-based Goodwill Art Studio & Gallery and Sunapple Studio; Passion Works Studio, Athens; Planet Joy Studio, Medina; Soaring Arts, Napoleon; and Cincinnati-based studios Thunder-Sky Inc. and Visionaries + Voices.
“We are so happy to host these studios and share the passion and enthusiasm that emanate from the artists’ creations,” said Betty Talbott, director of the Ohio Craft Museum, 1665 W. Fifth Ave. in Columbus. “Visitors will delight in the joy that these makers bring to their art.”
The exhibition “is our take on the varied visions and creative approaches being taken by the core group of artists from each of the participating studios,” said Patty Mitchell, founder and executive director of Passion Works.
Mitchell is working with the Ohio Craft Museum to coordinate “Shared Vision.”
“I hope when people come in and see the joy and beauty of these artists’ works, they will have an experiential reckoning and learn who these artists are and gain an added benefit of understanding the potential in all of us,” she said.
The artists whose work will be on display at the museum have a wide range of differences, Mitchell said.
“There are some with cerebral palsy, autism, brain injuries, physical limitations and limb paralysis,” she said. “One of the artists draws with their eyes.”
People with developmental disabilities participate in art for the same reasons as any artist, Mitchell said.
“Art is an opportunity for them to explore who they are and what they can do and to express themselves,” she said.
Wendy Minor is an artist-in-residence at Passion Works who helps the studio’s artists fully realize their visions.
“I don’t imprint myself into their work, but I help them in areas where they may not have the technical skill, like enlarging a drawing they’ve created in miniature,” she said.
At Passion Works, the artists often work in collaboration; she helps foster the group effort, Minor said.
An example is “The Horse and the Snail,” which will be on display at the museum.
Minor said she took small paintings of a horse, a snail and flowers that three artists made, created an image in which the snail is riding the horse amid a backdrop of flowers, then enlarged the image into a wall hanging.
Working with the artists at Passion Works has given her more confidence about what she can do with her own artwork, Minor said.
“It’s always liberating because it reinforces that there’s no wrong way in art,” she said. “It’s all about what you want to create. All my self-doubt as an artist melts away.”
More than 100 artists regularly spend time working on projects at Open Door’s Grandview Heights studio, said Claire Smith, its community exhibition coordinator.
The studio is open every weekday, she said.
“All of our artists see this as their job,” Smith said. “Creating their art gives them a purpose and an outlet for expressing themselves.”
“It lets them see they don’t have to be limited by their disabilities,” she said.
Open Door supplies the artists with the materials and space they need and the artists receive a 60% commission for each piece they sell, Smith said.
Along with the gallery space at its studio, Open Door arranges for the artists’ work to be shown at as many outside events as possible, she said.
The “Shared Vision” exhibition at the craft museum will allow more people to experience the expressive artwork created by people with developmental differences, Smith said.
Along with the core display, the craft museum also will feature “Welcome to Charlottesville,” an exhibition of multimedia works by Charlotte McGraw, a Goodwill artist.
Charlottesville is an imaginary town illustrated by collages and paintings of characters created by McGraw.
In a 2016 interview with ThisWeek, McGraw said her imaginary town is inclusive.
“In Charlottesville, it doesn’t matter what you look like or who you are,” she said. “You’re loved in Charlottesville.”
Her art “allows me to speak and say what I want to say,” McGraw said. “Even if we have a physical or mental disability, we want people to know we want to be listened to and be able to show our work just like everybody else.”
Both exhibitions will open with a reception from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at the museum. They will run through Oct. 6.
Artists from the participating studios, including McGraw, will speak at 2 p.m.
“We’re going to be planning a number of special events and educational programs throughout the run of the exhibition,” Talbott said.
For updates on special events, go to ohiocraft.org.
The Ohio Craft Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 4 p.m. weekends. Admission and parking are free.