Instead of a monthly round-up for February, let’s summarize how Innisfree’s mission statement applies to the Art Studio on a daily, yearly, and weekly basis!
I like re-visiting Innisfree’s mission statement every once in a while to reconnect with how our art program interfaces with the rest of the community. Though we are but a small part of the working whole, it’s important to remember how our work ties in with the big picture. This is a wordy post, but hopefully a good look into the root of why we do what we do.
- Be a model therapeutic environment with people with intellectual disabilities, emphasizing empowerment, interdependence, and mutual respect of all community members
During art class, we try our best to encourage each other and help each other out when needed. Congratulating each other on learning a new skill, completing a project, or asking for help when needed is something we try to emphasize and acknowledge. By acknowledging the little achievements, we come closer together as artists and community members and are stronger and more confident in our efforts!
- Evolve with the changing needs of the individuals with intellectual disabilities within the community and beyond
Sometimes the way someone used to make art just isn’t the same over the years. Some may evolve to need more or less structure, this or that medium, and this or that time frame. Some folks have learned very well how to pace their time and what they need to feel good about the work they’re making. Some have changed from being able to hold a paintbrush to preferring a thick crayon for better grip and preferring to express more general shapes. Some have never needed a reference for the images they wish to paint but now want to reference pictures and real-life scenes. What we try to do in the studio is to recognize this rather than pass it off as a “mood” or a “phase”, and accept and acknowledge it as a simple change in need through age or otherwise.
- Value work and foster creativity through artistic crafts, stewardship of the land, and daily community life
This one is pretty obvious! Aside from the art studio, the free-school classes of pottery and papermaking encompass other creative projects and ensure the involvement of those who are artistically inclined in creative projects. We try as often as we can to reference the land in which we live through what we create such as harvesting plants to include in papermaking, imprinting flowers on clay tiles, and painting the beautiful scenery around us.
- Promote efforts in the stewardship of the land to acknowledge the reciprocal relationship between human health and the natural environment
Again, we try to look outwards by acknowledging the beauty of the land on which we live through what we make with our hands. Although looking inward to understand why we do what we do is important, sometimes recognizing the beauty in things other than ourselves helps to heal and clarify what’s going on within.
- Encourage the integration of community members into the larger society through participation in cultural, educational, recreational, religious, and volunteer programs
There is still much to be done, but participating in art shows throughout the year, selling our crafts in the local area and visiting relevant art shows is something that we love to do and try to do regularly. Our hope for the future is to team up more often with outside group to garner a sense of collaboration and pride in our own work and in our ability to help others.
- Rely for its financial resources upon family support, the spirit of volunteerism, and private funding
We go to community support for our supplies and we are so thankful for that. Although we are able to sell some of what we make to purchase art supplies, we do rely on the community to support our artistic endeavors. In this way, it’s important that we utilize what’s available to us such as the enthusiasm of volunteer support and the natural art supplies of our environment!
- Support and encourage the talents and individuality of community members from diverse educational, national, ethnic, and social backgrounds
This is something we definitely need to work on. Most of the time, the artwork we make does not have an ethnic or national focus. The art program often supports community events by making decorations and we try to celebrate some non-U.S. holidays throughout the year. We need to be better at researching non-native crafts and celebrate other cultures!