Art In History Art Blog
I recently had a wonderful experience as a volunteer participant in Best Buddies "Artistic Abilities" program. I went in wanting to donate my time to this very worthy organization; I came away with much more than I contributed.
"Artistic Abilities" is a fundraising event for Best Buddies, an organization which works with intellectually challenged young people. Artists are paired with a buddy and collaborate to produce a work or works of art together. The main event will be held on Thursday November 5 at CityStage in Springfield MA, and will include an auction of the donated works.
My collaboration was with Adam, a delightful and exuberant young man in his early 20's. It took place at Riverside Studios in Easthampton, MA, which serves this population. I decided that I would like to give Adam free reign to work in his own way, and therefore suggested we do simultaneous portraits of each other.
He agree enthusiastically and without hesitation. How refreshing! In years of teaching art to all ages, a common frustration is how reluctant people are to risk failure with their own art. Something about art is too personal; failure would reflect too much on your worth as a person. People can admit freely to terrible spelling or no math skills, but will hardly dare to try to draw or paint.
Adam will try anything with total unselfconsciousness. He has acted in many plays, is a professional wrestler, and loves "Wheel of Fortune", mostly it seems for the design of the wheel itself. When I suggested we sign our works, he was fascinated, so I told him about how artists often sign their work with a name or a monogram. He asked what a monogram was, so I demonstrated how I might turn my initials into a monogram. Within a minute he had developed a monogram from his own initials.
In two 90 minute sessions, Adam and I ended up doing two portraits each, with Adam completing his own his own between meetings. We will donate one pair to Best Buddies, and exchange one pair between ourselves. I look forward to seeing him again at CityStage.