Preview: All About Town at Blockfort
Work by artists from three studios with similar missions — Open Door, Goodwill, and Art Outside the Lines — will center on community-themed works created by artists with developmental disabilities and other barriers. “All About Town” will explore Columbus, belonging, and what it looks like to be a part of a community.
Claire Smith, a creative mentor and studio registrar for Open Door, says the theme is inspired by recent state legislation, which is causing people with developmental disabilities and their families to call for more community integration.
In Ohio’s developmental disabilities system, individuals are often grouped together in intermediate care facilities and separated from the wider population. If a person with disabilities wants to live and work in their community instead of in a facility, it can take years to receive the necessary services needed to do so.
While changes to the system could take many years, people are encouraging more integration and presence in the community now. Open Door has done so by providing its artists the opportunity to visit community sites they normally wouldn’t get to on a day-to-day basis.
“We’ve been doing a lot more community experiences and getting our artists exposed to experiences that people that have a little bit more access to — art openings and galleries and museums and things like that — on a regular basis,” she says.
“A lot of the artwork was made on site at these places as we were doing planar painting and studying, that kind of thing,” she continues. “Going to the Franklin Park Conservatory or walking around downtown in certain neighborhoods and things like that — observing and recording.”
While broadening their artistic horizons, spending time in communities across Columbus has inspired artists to create from their surroundings and experiences, says Smith.
“Open Door, Goodwill, and Art Outside the Lines all have very similar missions, empowering artists with disabilities through representation and community as well as creativity,” she says. “This exhibit is more about our reintroduction to the community.”
“All About Town” is available for viewing at Blockfort through Jan. 27. An opening exhibit takes place Thursday, Jan. 10. at 6 p.m.