When the AHRC, a not for profit that serves more than 2,000 people with special needs, asked for an experience to enhance the love of art for a few of their students, The Art Guild of Port Washington created a hands-on afternoon of abstract art, painting with nature and a dose of magic.
The field trip started for eight adults and two aides with a docent-led tour of the current exhibit, Abstractions: What is True for You? Students learned about the many kinds of abstract paintings and how sparks of a dream or a flash of memory can be inspirational, and how finished pieces may represent someone’s truth as opposed to what we have come to expect.
Following the tour, Antonia Fthenakis, a Bank Street College educator with a focus on special needs and director of WildChildOrganic, introduced students to items from nature that were historically used as art mediums. Students were encouraged to touch and feel natural materials such as mustard seeds, coffee grinds and turmeric and then using centuries-old techniques, transformed these same items into their own paints.
Using the homemade paint that they developed, each student created their own Book of Patterns as well as their own magic potion necklace made of natural paints, herbs and spices. Studies show that the arts can bring people with disabilities great joy, build self-esteem and give them a voice. The students loved the experience.
“We do not have grants or funding for this sort of event,” said Lisa Grossman, the executive director of The Art Guild. “But we felt that this partnership was an important part of our mission.” The Art Guild was created to provide encouragement, education and a forum for the appreciation of the visual arts. It strives to offer residents of all ages and abilities an avenue to broaden their creative pursuits.
As The Art Guild continues to grow, the organization is hoping to expand this much-needed program to different centers in Long Island that work with people with disabilities. The organization is accepting donations via The Art Guild’s website, theartguild.org.