The article below appears on the Community Living Ontario's website and is written by Natalie Miller.
About 100 original works will be on display at Unionville gallery
Friday, March 13, 2009 -- by Natalie Miller
From large, colourful abstract paintings to three-dimensional sculptures, an upcoming art exhibition will showcase the diverse works of Ontario artists who have an intellectual disability.
IDEAL-WAY, a non-profit organization that supports people who have an intellectual disability, received more than 500 pieces of artwork through its first province-wide art contest. Of the 500 entries, a juror has selected about 100 pieces which will be on display in the McKay Art Centre at 197 Main St. in Unionville next month. The IDEAL-WAY Art Exhibition runs from April 1 to 5.
Both the IDEAL-WAY and the art contest's juror are impressed with the calibre of the work submitted and optimistic about the potential impact of the show.
"After seeing the works, it confirms my opinion that art is beyond disability," says Andrew Hamilton, juror, Canadian landscape painter and fine arts professor.
"The artists who participated showed dedication and overcame many obstacles. While art provides an outlet it is predominantly a soul-searching exploration."
IDEAL-WAY says as an organization it is experiencing "widespread excitement at the number (of entries) and delight at the high quality.
"We are humbled by the response from all corners of Ontario," says Addie Daabous, executive director.
"This validates our beliefs in 'seeing ability in disability.' We were also impressed with the effort that so many organizations, schools and families put into supporting the IDEAL-WAY art contest."
Daabous notes several Community Living associations helped promote the contest and as a result IDEAL-WAY received entries from communities including Toronto, Thunder Bay, Huronia and Lennox and Addington.
While the art show is intended to provide an opportunity for people to showcase their work in a gallery setting, there is also an education component as well, Daabous notes.
"We hope to engage communities throughout the province to see what (people) can do rather than what they cannot do. The IDEAL art contest is one example of IDEAL-WAY's unique approach to positively re-educating mainstream society by publicly empowering (people who have an intellectual disability)."
Daabous says, for instance, while there may be one or two students from a particular school who have a piece in the show, their entire class, which includes students who don't have an intellectual disability, are attending to support their peers.
"This is a wonderful bridge to inclusion. These exceptional individuals have talents which the average mainstream person may never otherwise know. We are all equal, only different, and we all have our unique gifts."
One hundred per cent of any proceeds from the show, including works sold, go directly to the artists.
Admission to the show is free.
If you have feedback on this article, e-mail natalie(at)axiomnews.ca or call the newsroom at 800-294-0051.
Reprinted from Community Living Leaders, an online news service of Community Living Ontario. www.communitylivingontario.ca.