Thursday, July 05, 2007

Artists in Residence Part II

Art & Abilitation:
“Abilitation” is not a word recognized by Webster though it is a word used quite often by therapists and caregivers of exceptional children. In my own journey I have found that the creative process leads to profound positive impact upon my son. The first 3 goals listed above are more easily achieved through goal #4.

In my son Ben’s case we have seen dramatic improvement in hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and simple logic. We have developed methods of communication that reach beyond language so that we understand each other better. Ultimately we are meeting challenges head on and overcoming obstacles that prevent him from living a joyful life. In the end he has been rewarded with a sense of accomplishment which is just as important had he taken his first steps! Unlike physical therapies, there are no failures in art therapy.

This is what I want to share with the folks visiting EdVenture in September.

Considerations: There are many.

  • Will the community creation become a permanent museum display?
  • Will the individuals participating want to take home their creations?
  • The toxicity of materials used
  • The ease and ability of clean up.
  • How often do I visit to facilitate or teach the activity?

The Idea: I have come to the conclusion that the best possible finished piece be some sort of mosaic. Individuals visiting the museum can take 15 to 20 minutes to work on and complete a small work of art. Since Ben and I use painting as our preferred method of creating I would like to have participants use the same. I have found a non-toxic acrylic paint called Liquitex Glossies (MSDS information can be found at this address: Using soap and water can easily clean this type of paint. I would also suggest using either baby wipes or a similar type product for help in cleansing paint off skin.

The surface I suggest for use as a “canvas” is a typical bathroom tile. Acrylic paint will dry to touch within 20 to 30 minutes and can be handled easily with 45 minutes to an hour. The paint cures within 24 hours becoming “permanent” although scratching a sharp object across the surface could still damage the painting. That is why I would want to “fire” the tiles to be used in the community creation in an ordinary oven (325 degrees for 45 minutes achieves a scratch-resistant, high gloss finish).

For the “community creation” I propose to construct a large permanent mosaic of a Palmetto Tree using selected tiles from those made at the museum. I would use two or three Saturdays in September to complete the project. I would also use those dates to discuss more in depth my thoughts shared earlier. I definitely would like to have my son present for possible demonstrations and encouragement.

The selection of the tiles could be done in several different ways.
  1. Submissions from schools across the state.
  2. Selections from those tiles completed at the museum throughout the month.
  3. Submissions from special needs schools or classrooms such as The Washington Center in Greenville, SC (Ben’s school).
  4. Tiles that Ben and me work on at home for use to “fill in” areas needed for completion of the work.
Regardless I would like ALL people who want to participate be able to do so. It is important that the finished work include tiles made by exceptional children as well as those living a healthy disability free life. I also feel that the Palmetto Tree is a perfect subject to use. Not only is it a highly visible symbol of our state but it represents the courage, beauty, and fortitude of the people of our state.

I would also like the museum to pursue corporate sponsors to donate the tile and scaffolding equipment toward the expense of this endeavor.


Karen said...

What an exciting, awesome project. I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Kyla said...

This is going to be great, Bennie!

The Curmudgeon said...

Just read Pts. 1 & 2. What a great way to combine your passions.

Switching subject entirely, though: I had a little fun with you at my blog today. Hope it's OK....

landgirl said...

"abilitation" is a cool word for a lifestyle choice for all of us. Usually jargon is offputting but this one seems right on the mark to me. The project you outlined sounds wonderful. Will you write more about it in blog so we can follow progress of project?

bennie said...

landgirl, most definitely. I submitted the paperwork yesterday, the majority of it being what was written in Parts 1 & 2. I left out some uninteresting details and the financial projections.

There will be a meeting in two weeks to finalize everything. As soon as I know something you'll be able to read it here!