“Art; or rather artists harness their create abilities; to convey important messages, make a person feel something; artists are able to imprint a piece of their message, upon spectators;” this knowledge makes a painting, so much more then strokes on a canvas; and brings even more meaning to A.I.M for inclusion, the art exhibition I had the absolute pleasure of attending this last Monday.
A.I.M is a day service providing a stable and opportunity driven atmosphere to young people with cognitive disabilities, they partnered with Art Adventure; to produce a stunning gallery of art; done to not only showcase these young peoples talents but also, showcase the effort for inclusion.
Inclusion is the fundamental right all people have to be apart of society, in whatever way they can; or choose. All people should have the right; to complete art work amongst peers, or to go and enjoy the beach in summer, we may not all do these things the same way; but we can do them. Inclusion, is recognising differences but respecting abilities and seeing them as of higher merit.
I was asked, to advocate for the artists from this exhibition, and talk about the quest for inclusion we take on, this was what I wrote
“I will not walk like you, I may not think or talk like you; but that does not limit my creative abilities, I can draw and paint, write and speak; I can do, what I can. It is with this understanding, obstacles and challenges become tools, our difficulties; paint brushes, our differences biros; creative abilities, and art. Enable us to seek creation from obstacles, creating positivity and bringing forth inclusion. Inclusion, like this art; is an abstract word; because it means something unique, to each person; but the common thread of the word, is the knowledge that all people; deserve opportunities, dignified treatment and times of expression. All that I have done, has not been completed in the same way as my peers, but the way an individual achieves shouldn’t matter; if they needed more help, if someone had to push they’re chairs; or be a caregiver for them; then so be it. Because the art, hanging now; is just that, art. It doesn’t matter the way it was done, rather what holds merit, is the fact; hanging on the wall now, is art done; out of passion, with the concept of fun and ability for all people, art no different to any other gallery; but special, because beyond the paint, beyond the tools used in its creation; this art work, is a symbol, and every time you look at it, know; that you are apart of the quest for inclusion, ask yourself. Is inclusion something you aim for. Because those of us who are blessed with active voices, must advocate for these artists and their abilities; beyond their challenges. Do you aim for Inclusion. I do.”
Listening, to Claire read out that foreword was one of the proudest moments of my life, because I knew in that moment, I was exactly where I was suppose to be; and I believe so much in their abilities, not only as young artists but as young people; they may not be able to articulate their own abilities; but I can use my abilities to aid them, I can articulate and advocate; for them. Because, no matter any challenge each of those students came to that art class; and they completed and produced beautiful art, we can learn a lot from that.
How many times have we thought ‘things were too hard’ how many times have we ‘felt like giving up’, when we do. We need to think of these students, and their abilities to come to class, complete the art; and showcase their talents no matter an obstacle.
We can and do learn from them and see their abilities evident, everyday. I learned, from Liam that you can get an app to see helicopters flying in real time over the sky, and I saw in him telling me of this, how much joy he had in helicopters, same with space, he loves space. As he said to me “space can be any colour” in talking to him, I saw true love and passion for something; I also saw the presence of joy; and that is something we often loose track of, but it is manifested in him, through him we are reminded.
Another one of the artists, who didn’t talk that much; reminded me how much could be said without saying an awful lot. I saw pride, patience, grace, humility and loyalty illustrated to me, within the hours of the exhibition and these qualities; are such ones we all need reminding of; we can learn so much from these young people and more then that, they can be as equal a part of this society, as you or I. They might just need more help to get there, they might define being “equal” a different way. I know for me, the moment I get the cup of tea from the bench to the table; I think yes! I did it. Same as you (you might not celebrate tea), but in a different way or with different means.
Programs like A.I.M and Art Adventure, programs that take challenges and differences; and manifest skills, are vital in our society, not just for the young people who rely on them for support and outlet; but for our society – because everything is to be gained from diversity; it is just mindset that holds us back. It is when we take the time to talk, to laugh, to practice dignity. We realise “all people; deserve opportunities, dignified treatment and times of expression”
Claire who runs Art Adventure; is one of those rare people whose seen the gold in every individual she has met, can’t use a paint brush; then use your hands, can’t use your hands this way, what about that way. Nothing has ever been, too much or too hard for Claire; because she believes in everyones ability to find success; in their own way. In her studio, you are not only reminded of inclusion but it is bought forth in every brush stroke, and seen in full colour; through the paint James spreads through his hair. Claire, is beautiful; not only for who she is; but because she empowers everyone to find that same beauty. These programs, the fight and advocation for inclusion is vital, it is a fight. I undertake everyday. Because every person is valued. Every person has a right, to dignified treatment, opportunity and self expression.
If you’d like more information on A.I.M (in Warkworth) look here