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GCAC Presents: VSA Ohio at the intersection of art and disability

 Noelle Chun GCAC Presents: VSA Ohio at the intersection of art and disability
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Since its founding in 1986, VSA Ohio has evolved to become a community that helps inspired artists connect with their passions. Bridging arts and disability, their programs and services focus on providing equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency—all hallmarks of the milestone Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation.

In the past, VSA Ohio has been involved in the Central Ohio community through art residencies in public schools and outreach events. In 2010, the organization unveiled a 30 by 6 foot mural at the Ohio Statehouse’s 20th anniversary of the ADA. The mural, now housed at the Ohio University Lancaster campus, was created by 27 contributing artists with disabilities and represents ongoing advocacy efforts to change social attitudes and disability policies.

In working with a range of constituents including artists, educators, disability administrators, and the general public, the organization engages in projects like the ADA mural to communicate the idea that disability does not overshadow all other areas of a person’s character. In fact, most of those involved in VSA Ohio programming identify first as artists, family members, and employees, reluctantly putting disability at the forefront.

Nathanael Curtiss "Landscape", left. Malcolm J. "Tall Timbers", Part I, right.

The next big highlight for VSA Ohio is A Day of Arts for All, an inclusive and celebratory event integrating art, performance, advocacy, and professional development for artists with disabilities. The annual event opens the 17th Accessible Expressions Ohio exhibit and tour featuring 87 pieces of art curated from artists of all abilities across Ohio. Erin Hoppe, executive director of VSA Ohio insists, “AEO is perhaps the most diverse display of art people will get to see in Ohio. The work is mischievous, clever, thought-provoking, political, and beautiful.”

The AEO exhibit is complemented by performances from the 2012 Young Soloists, an award program for musicians with disabilities sponsored by VSA International. Additionally, Patty Mitchell, social entrepreneur and artist specializing in collaborations between artists with and without developmental disabilities, will guest lead a workshop on “How to Share Your Art with the World,” offering a glimpse into the many approaches of exchanging and dialoguing about art online.

“Accessibility is key; we want everyone to have the same opportunities to see, create, and engage with art in the public and educational settings,” Hoppe says. “Everyone should be able to celebrate life through the arts.” VSA Ohio recently announced they will host the 2012 ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival November 3rd-7th, showcasing inspiring films about disability at local theaters as part of the Columbus Bicentennial festivities.

The entire 87 piece Accessible Expressions Ohio 2012 exhibit will be on display at the Westerville Community Center (350 N. Cleveland Ave., Westerville OH 43085) from March 3rd through 31st. After that it will divide into groups and tour across Ohio through the end of the year. For tour listings, updates, and images, visit www.vsao.org.

GCAC Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus – in partnership with the Columbus Arts Marketing Association, a professional development and networking association of arts marketers. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at the arts in Columbus.

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