NYC artists tell their story

Twenty New York City artists who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are now sharing their art in an exhibition entitled “Our Story: Connecting Families and Communities through Art.”

This sixth annual exhibition opened with an evening reception on Aug. 17 at the Brooklyn Museum and ends on Aug 28. The Brooklyn Museum is located at 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The exhibition is open Saturday-Sunday 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Capturing one’s true self through art was last year’s challenge. This year’s exhibition by the artists who have their own set of challenges captures the essence of the people and places that are important to their lives through portraits, photography, painted landscapes, structure and large multi-media pieces on paper.

The show, represents a seven-year collaboration between the Brooklyn Museum and the Institute for Community Living’s I/DD Division. The Institute for Community Living (ICL) is a 25-year-old not-for-profit agency that offers a wide array of services to people with disabilities, including nine residences and community-based services for individuals with I/DD.

Dylan Stanfield, ICL arts and activities counselor and the main facilitator between ICL, the artists and the Brooklyn Museum, explains, “This exhibition allows the viewer to see into the lives of these artists and includes an aspect of their lives that is sometimes overlooked when talking about a population with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Family and friends, each of whom live outside of the artists’ supported residences, are an active and vital part of their lives. Their support and advocacy for their loved ones is extremely important to understanding who these artists are.”

For Dylan, one of the highlights of pulling this exhibition together was when he contacted familymembers to ask them for photos and other inspirational mementos. Each was eager to help and delighted to be included. “While the people that make up our family and friends help to tell the story of who we are, the places in which we live and work give insight into our daily lives.”

Over the past year, Dylan and Brooklyn Museum docents led the artists in frequent trips to gain inspiration from the Museum’s exhibitions.

“We used the world around us to draw inspiration to tell stories of their experiences. We also looked at how the seasons change our city and how the elements become players in the stories that they create.One focus was how artists represent natural phenomenal (rain, wind, snow and time of day) to capture a mood or feeling and how it helps to tell the story,” said Dylan.

Dylan recalls, “One artist, James, has done amazing work about wind. We discussed what it means, like how can you paint it if it’s invisible yet affects stuff. Can an artist show it just by using paint or do you have to use your body.” “The resulting piece is mostly of tree forms with these big, blustery clouds.”

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