Giving art a space to grow

Published 8:47 am Thursday, June 1, 2017

For 10 years now, the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) and Crossroads Community Services Board (CCSB) have teamed up to create the ideal artistic opportunity for different groups of approximately 80 adults who have developmental disabilities.

Any artist would love to have materials provided, a free environment in which to create and a platform to ensure people can experience their work.

The LCVA and CCSB provide all of that in connection with Crossroads’ annual Camp Unity.

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To view more photos of the gallery, click here.

According to the description in an LCVA press release, “Camp Unity serves over 80 adults with developmental disabilities and provides them with an opportunity to enjoy all of the traditional summer camp activities while promoting a sense of community and camaraderie among the participants.”

LCVA’s Director of Education Outreach Emily Grabiec said that about a decade ago, CCSB asked the LCVA to do the art portion of the camp.

“And so we go out, and we make artwork with their clients who are at the camp, and this exhibition features the artwork that we make at the camp,” she said while surrounded by walls lined with artwork in the LCVA’s lower level Sunday afternoon.

She was at the reception that kicked off the LCVA’s exhibition of the campers’ work. The exhibition, made possible with help from Helton House, will continue until Aug. 6.

Grabiec and Longwood University students help lead the art projects during the run of the camp each October. This past year, they had campers use tempera paint on canvases.

“We asked them to think a little bit about themselves and to maybe do a portrait or draw a picture of something that was meaningful for them,” Grabiec said. “We try to leave the art activity open so it can be really their interpretation of what they want to create.”

The result was a plethora of colorful artwork.

CCSB Residential Director Sheila Eames was on hand for Sunday’s reception that doubled as a meet-and-greet with some of the artists.

“I think that this is a good event for the campers because they enjoy seeing their work up and coming in here to socialize with each other or others that come in,” she said.

Camp Unity will be held again in October, and Grabiec is already contemplating ideas of the kind of art campers can create next.

“We’ve thought it’d really be neat to maybe make some 3D pieces as we’ve done paintings for the past few years, so we thought it might be nice to kind of expand it and actually get to do more sculptures,” she said.

The result will be on display Spring 2018 at the LCVA.