On Day 13 I started my volunteer position with The heART of Friendship Art Gallery located in Ephrata, PA. Once a week, Wednesdays, from 9am-noon I will be working one-on-one with a heART artist (the same gal every week) in the creation and development of her personal art projects. This is a new and very challenging position for me for I have never worked with adults with developmental disabilities at this level; especially since I myself am not formally trained in the fine arts. I totally consider myself an Outsider Artist, my style is totally eclectic going from folk art whimsy to flashes of some fine art thrown here and there but never at the academically trained level – nor is that my goal for doing art.
I shared these concerns with Marsha Petery, Gallery Coordinator, and she reassured me that we were ALL here to learn and that’s what makes the process so inviting and exciting. Marsha explained to me that their volunteer staff is very diverse from accomplished professional artists to community people like me who practice art making outside of formal fine art training. I shared with Marsha that I had just started the 30 Days of Get Your Art On blog and how much support and learning I have been experiencing in just the first 12 days of posting. I asked Marsha if it would be okay if I blogged about my experience with The heART of Friendship and shared the heART artist work process to get ideas and feedback from my online art community. She loved the idea and gave me permission to blog away on the topic (to keep confidentiality I will not be sharing too much detail on the actual heART artist art process nor her personal information). My main goal is to open up the circle of creative dialogue - for my online art community to advise me on possible suggestions I can share with my heART artist as she is actively choosing for herself the development of her personal artwork. So it’s going to be me posting pictures of the work in progress and you providing comments.
HERE WE GO… Let’s create together:
So this Wednesday, July 13th, as I began to discover what my volunteer role was I began to feel a lot of concern for how effective as a helper I was going to be, for all the reasons stated above. I am to assist my heART artist with her personal artwork creation (I forget the ratio) but in the end she will be doing the bulk of the art creation and I am there to verbally direct and/or manually assist with some of the process. The art project was assigned by the heART of Friendship fulltime paid Lead Teacher/Artist. So when I arrived the art project was what it was and there was no turning back or changing it. As it was communicated to me by the Lead Teacher, I had to help the heART artist work through the challenge of recreating the image which was assigned to her (I’m not sure if the heART artist choose the picture or the Lead Teacher) but there was no time to waste on that question my heART artist was eager to start creating art and she was looking to me to get her started.
The picture my heART artist was working off of was an image of Mexican architecture; she had already painted the background purple using acrylic paint on the watercolor paper and was beginning to trace a template in the shape of the main part of the building that she had decided to focus on recreating. After much dialogue and hands on trial and error (becoming familiar with her cognitive abilities and artist skills) this is what was created – see images below.
Next Wednesday we will be picking up where we left off and I would like input from my fellow online art community on any suggestions, critique, feedback you could provide me to share with my heART artist. One thing my heART artist decided to try for next week is to play with cutting up the painting (cut around the main building and add it to a new background) playing with the three dimensional forms already in place (the terracotta pots on the right side were glued on using pop up dots) we plan to play with cardboard next week to make the building a bit more 3D. The final artwork will be housed in a black shadowbox. My heART artist really liked this idea of playing with the three dimensional form; a new experience for her and a fun element I love to experiment with. My biggest dilemma is how do we play with 3D but still be true to showcasing some traditional fine art skills already present in the 2D format (window niche and pots). The main building needs a glaze wash to add more three dimension to it but how should we go about introducing this now that that the acrylic paint is dry and the pots are glue on? How about the background, should we introduce any other building elements or do a sky background? My heART artist relies on the Lead Teacher and volunteers like myself to assist her with these types of decision making. I would love to hear your ideas and include you in the process; so what’s on your mind, as always please leave a comment I am eager to hear your thoughts.
More about The heART of Friendship Art Gallery
“The heART of Friendship is an extension of Friendship Community located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The vision of Friendship Community is to be a community which affirms the worth of all people. The heART of Friendship empowers adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities to pursue the creation of art as a way of developing skills, achieving self expression, finding a meaningful role in society and moving toward economic independence. In addition the gallery holds classes for the general public, thus facilitating an artistic experience in the setting of diversity.
- Aggressive marketing of art projects serves to promote individual artists and their work and provide artists with financial resources. We exhibit and sell our work beyond our gallery, by marketing on the internet and other local retail establishments. Public and private commissions, open houses, shows, libraries and commercial offices are also opportunities for exhibition and revenue.
- Ultimately, the heART of Friendship Art Gallery will develop into a self sustaining business offering people exposure to, and involvement with, the creative work of people with disabilities. By encouraging persons with disabilities to develop personal feelings of worth and value, the visual arts offer everyone an opportunity to communicate in a new language, while destroying the stigma often associated with persons having disabilities.
To learn more about the heART of Friendship Art Gallery click on the link below.