Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Art Connections - the road ahead

On of my goals being supported by my ndis package is to assist with building an inclusive arts community. As previously shared this is a multi-layer approach.  

  1. Extending my own visual practise and building skills.  In extending my practise I am looking for new audiences and opportunities to exhibit my work outside the Ipswich CBD.  Part of this has been achieved by becoming a member of Aspire Gallery in Pationing.
  2. The next step occurred ask I was invited to be part of a Fundraiser for Able Australia.  Able Australia supports older Australians and people with disabilities to participate in the community, through providing transport, assistance with shopping, social get together's and bus trips.  In 2018 the have a small grant to run some art workshops.  On Friday night I joined the other artists to celebrate the opening of the exhibition.  I was a great night to catch with old friends and make new connections.  As the artists shared their journey during the evening. 
  3. One of the artists was Julie Maddlock who was involved in Ipswich Inspirations, a not-profit organisation who ran a small gallery and workshops for local artists. One of those exhibitions was an exhibition organised by Anglicare for International Day of People with Disabilities. Another collective art exhibition I was able to be part of. 
  4. When I was asked to speak at the opening of the Ipswich Area Office this was combined with a mini-art exhibition.  I was pleased to see the progress on some of the people who had participated in the Artisability program.
  5. In 2014 Ipswich Arts Connect Inc.  supported ArtISability's Community Connections program.  One of the most valuable things an artists can do is connect to other artist's. Being part of Arts Connect has given me support in a number of ways.  For the last three years the have supported fundraiser's for my Artisability programs.  Next week we have our annual OFF THE WALL MEMBER'S exhibition.   
  6. Recently Arts Connect hosted 'Colours of Queensland' at Ipswich Arts Gallery,  Some of members have had work in the touring exhibition sponsored by Flying Arts during 2017. A few weeks ago I went to meet the artists.  It was really inspiring to hear how other artist work.

Items created for 'Off The Wall' Exhibition
Presented by Members of Arts Connect Inc. 
@ Ipswich Community Art Gallery

These are he connection points I have made as I develop my art practise. As I work in the arts community others gain an understanding of disability and the struggles I face in my work. However this in a drop in the ocean of what it means to live with disability.  

Each individual living with disability as a truly individual journey and obstacles they must over come.  In general public have little insight to what our lives contain. Their beliefs are based on their own experience of disability.  That may be limited to neighbours, people the went to school with or individuals they see out in the community.

The general community assumes that our lives are vastly different to others, until they get to know someone like me. Many would not expect I would live independently in my own home.  When I am ou and about I am engage in the community . . . not just getting out the house for the sake of it and all too often my friends are assumed to be carer's. Belonging to my community has help others dispel some myths but there are many more barriers to breakdown. 

My passion for art is how I've been able to connect and engaged in the Ipswich community. I am unfortunate to enjoy many creative outlets not just visual arts, but writing and poetry as well. For many years I did not identify with the disability community. Most of my activities and studies have been mainstreamed.  Art through ArtISability has allow me to connect directly with other people living with disability.

In fighting the resistance to be labelled an art group for those with disabilities I can the name of our group to Ignite Artists.  Being seen as a disability service provider, continues to feed the misunderstanding that 'we' are different or do not belong to the communities in which e live, work and play.  That's right! Many of us work, we going shopping to buy food and other items.  My appliances eventually need replacing too. 

This is why I spent the last 18 months developing a doll exhibition about diversity, I am hoping the exhibition will be a conversation starter.  "What does it mean to be different to the norm?" and "where do we fit in the local community?"

Explore diversity and individual difference should enable us to explore our beliefs.  What do I believe about other cultures and religious?

How do I feel about the lief style choices of others?  How do my fears affect the way I interact or don't interact with people who are different to me?  Or do I let social norms govern my beliefs and actions.

Do I add to the melting pot or weave into the fabric of life?  This is a choice we all make based on our beliefs and values.  Values that are not also based on facts. .  

I hope my Melting Pot Exhibition will open a discussion on diversity and lead to me being able to assist showcasing the visual arts skills of others living with disability in 2018.  I will be leaning my knowledge in this field to other members of Arts Connect so we can include these artists in the FUSSED festival next year. 


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