Art filled the black tables and mounted boards scattered across the floor of the 1912 Center as people milled about, sipping punch. The showcase only lasted for two hours, but would be enough time for viewers enjoyment and, in some cases, sold.
The Moscow Artability showcase was a culmination of workshops for people with disabilities hosted by the University of Idaho Center on Disabilities and Human Development (CDHD) April 24. An array of over 50 pieces of work from nearly 20 artists were on display.
“I’ve never displayed my work before, so it’s actually pretty exciting,” said Barbara Gragert, an art enthusiast who had three pieces at the showcase.
Gragert said this is her first time displaying her art at a workshop, among 11 other new participants. She said she first started to draw at the age of 5 and continued through junior high and into high school.
Gragert said her boyfriend, Mike Gates, drew her into the program this year.
“I was like, ‘OK, I like art and I hope my friends from high school are here.’ Found a few of them, and I made more,” she said.
Gates, the president of the Idaho Self-Advocate Leadership Network Moscow Chapter (SALN), said he has been at almost every workshop offered, although he was not an artist before.
“I was always an athlete,” Gates said. “I mean I’ve done art, but this is something new to me.”
Gates said the workshops are different from year to year, offering a variety of new mediums. The 2016-2017 workshops produced pottery, gelli prints and blackout poems. Gates said in the past they have done water coloring and drawing as well.
This year, Gates displayed five creations, among them a ceramic pyramid with Egyptian symbols on the sides, called “Giza.” He said he rushed through another pottery project, at the showcase, so he could work on it.
“The pyramid just kind of hit in my brain, just like, sparked,” Gates said. “Like no, that’s what I really want to do.”
Kalli Sorber, the Artability project director, said they chose the 1912 Center because it is easily accessible to those in wheelchairs. Sorber said for the past three years, the showcase lasted two hours.
“In future years, we hope to be able to have it up for a month at the 1912 Center so that people can come in and see it,” she said.
Sorber said CDHD interns volunteered to run the showcase this year, welcoming attendees, offering refreshments and selling gift cards. SALN also tabled at the event.
Sorber said one of the positive outcomes is the relationships developed as a result of the program. Gates said although he already knew most of the participants, creating art together at the workshops helped him to get to know them better, and it also allowed him to meet new people.
Gates said if CDHD continues to have Artability workshops, he will attend.
“I think art really shows who you can be or who you are,” Gates said.
Nina Rydalchcan be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NinaRobin7