February Round-up: Innisfree’s Mission as applied to the Art Studio.

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.

Innisfree shall:

  • 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! 

Tutorial: Paper Mâché “Helping Hands”

In response to the “Day of Service” that celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. back in January, we talked in art class about constructive ways in which we use our hands. We talked about how we can help by using our “helping hands”! Here are some of the ideas we came up with in art class:

With my hands, I can…

  • draw
  • sweep up dirt
  • clean
  • wear my gloves when it’s cold outside
  • give hugs
  • put trash in the dumpster
  • wash
  • wave to friends
  • clap to music
  • chop vegetables
  • fold laundry
  • help cook

Everyone has such unique ways of helping our around the village, so we decided to make our “helping hands” a unique reflection of our personalities! Therefore, when it’s time we’ll paint our hands in our own unique ways, and reflect upon what it’s like to be a helpful citizen to our community.

Below are pictures of the process:

This is going to be a short and sweet tutorial, since there are so many ways to go about it and ours is just one of them!

  1. We put on latex gloves and wound masking tape around our hands and fingers. We were careful not to do it too tight so we could remove them after our whole hands were covered!
  2. We ripped up about 2 newspaper into strips, and then realized that it would be easier if we had small squares instead. We dunked the small squares of newspaper into watered-down elmer’s glue (about 2:1 ratio water to glue) and stuck the pieces to our masking-tape hands
  3. Through trial and error we found it was easier to stick our gloves on an overturned cup to a) open up the base of the glove so it didn’t collapse under the weight of the newspaper and glue and b) so we didn’t have to touch the hand too much while we were doing the paper mâché (some of us are very sensitive to texture!).
  4. We continued to paper mâché over the course of a few sessions to make sure the surface of the glove was covered as much as possible so that no masking tape was peeking out. Once the glue and newspaper dried our surface became very hard and it was time for painting!
  5. The glove shown above is Sian’s, and she chose to first paint her hand white to get a nice, neutral surface and then she picked out some favorite colors – blue, purple and red, with which to paint her hand.

Arts around the village

We love to see the arts being embraced all around Innisfree whether it’s doing crafts on a rainy day or gathering a group to tie-dye in the summertime. This past week, we said goodbye to a long-time community member as he moves on to new things. Cabell was a big part of the community for 14 years, and we hope to still see him around! Thanks for all you did for the gardens and the community, Cabell!

Here are some photographs of card-making from last week’s Community Gathering. We used potato stamping and drawing to create colorful cards to show Cabell our appreciation.

The medical office recently received a face-lift when we put some pieces from the art class up on its walls! They really brighten a room, and it’s so nice to see the art studio represented around the village. I hope it brings pride and happiness to Innisfree artists!

Lastly, some of the Innisfree weavers have been working in the weavery for over 20 years but that doesn’t mean they don’t still take pride in their work! Here’s Bee modeling a sherpa coat fresh off the loom. She does such beautiful work!


Snow Day Fun sponsored by the letter “P”

I’m sure by now everyone’s sick of talking about the snow. We have almost a 1.5 feet and I’ve never seen Innisfree so beautiful. That being said, going outside was impossible for a day or two so we kept ourselves busy drawing, watching movies, and cooking! One of the things we did we have a “P” day. I don’t know how it worked out that way but it just seemed like Picasso, Painting, and Paint-palette cookies were just what the doctor ordered (along with some Physical activity in the form of yoga!)

So, we set about to draw on moustaches in eyeliner-pencil (so we felt like artists, of course) and learn a bit about Picasso from youtube (the internet is so handy sometimes!)

Then we laid our heads down on a piece of paper and traced the profiles of our faces (another “P”!), then proceeded to add lots of color in each of our own unique ways. One thing we talked about was Picasso’s way of abstracting a face- the way the eyes, mouth, nose, etc. can all be placed in random ways on the face. I love the way these turned out!

6 Articles worth reading

Check out these articles on local and “outsider” art!

Return on beauty: Hamid Karimi’s artistic stamina pays off

“While Charlottesville may have yet to see the type of full-fledged contemporary art installations as Indiana University School of Medicine at Illinois or the Cleveland Clinic’s Arts & Medicine Institute, UVA Health South Rehabilitation Hospital is changing its clinical aesthetic with the help of local artist and gallery owner Hamid Karimi.”

Film on the Fringe: 10 Intriguing Outsider Art Documentaries

“…Other films have examined the unexpected and unrecognized genius, strange pathology, and obsessively creative works of outsider artists in similarly intriguing ways. Many of the documentaries themselves have taken a low-fi approach to their portrayal, creating a similar mood to the works being investigated. Others come from a straight documentary angle, but all are compelling portraits. Head past the break to check out other outsider documentaries that introduce some of art and music’s most expressive creatives on the fringe.”

How Integrating Arts Into Other Subjects Makes Learning Come Alive

““Higher analytical thinking and reasoning and student voice fit so well with the arts,” said Bobby Riley, the school’s principal. Teachers are seeing ways to make connections between subjects and watch as students find creative confidence and voice in their expression.”

The Radical, Life-Changing Power Of Arts And Crafts

“For artists like Kumar, being an artist is not a dream, it’s a necessity. Carving and coloring are all as vital needs as eating and sleeping. There’s no masters degree, no blowout retrospectives, no time spent learning from the reigning art giants. Just making art, as if it’s as essential as breathing. And for artists like Kumar, this act of expression alone is everything. “

Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet

“The presentation highlights Dubuffet’s passionate belief in a new art paradigm that was non-Western and non-hierarchical, and that championed creators who are “uncontaminated by artistic culture.””

Artists with developmental disabilities team up to create life-size board game

A rainbow made of bottle caps hangs in "The Hero Within: Imagination and Identity" display at the Cultural Arts Center in Columbus on Oct. 12, 2015. The playful exhibits are mostly made out of repurposed plastic materials. (Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch)
“A rainbow made of bottle caps hangs in “The Hero Within: Imagination and Identity” display at the Cultural Arts Center in Columbus on Oct. 12, 2015. The playful exhibits are mostly made out of repurposed plastic materials. (Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch)”