Y.A.L.E. School’s Tri-State DisAbility art show brings together all kinds of people

DisAbility art show described as ‘genuine’ community experience

Last year’s art show for disabled students at Y.A.L.E. featured around 300 participants who created arts in ceramics, paintings and ink drawings, among other mediums. (Special to The Sun)

The Y.A.L.E. school’s Ellisburg campus in Cherry Hill will be the setting for the third annual Tri-State DisAbility Art Show, featuring art made by students with disabilities, on Friday, April 28.

Art students in grades K to 12 and ages 18 to 21 with an IEP or 504 plan will be represented in the show. Started three years ago, the presentation last year  featured about 300 artists from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

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This year, Y.A.L.E. art teacher Karen Donnelly hopes there will be even more participants.

“The idea behind it came from realizing that there was not too many opportunities for children in the tri-state area with disabilities to participate in the arts,” she said  “So it came from the need for a community for kids with disabilities in the area.”

Students can submit two pieces, and if they choose to, can have one of them judged professionally by partner organizations, including Penn Museum, the Art Educators of New Jersey Advisory Council and Perkins Center for the Arts.

According to a press release, “these organizations, along with Arts Ed New Jersey will also host hands-on activities for students and families in attendance at the art show,” which will also feature young student musicians.

Donnelly noted that one of the coolest things about the art show is that it is a   genuine community experience that brings together all kinds of people, from local residents, to children with disabilities, the disability community as a whole and   art organizations that are partners.

“ … Generally speaking, we do have a community for people with disabilities,” she explained. “However, it is fragmented into different little groups, whereas the art show is supposed to be a more open platform for everybody. 

“Rather than having these little clusters in these special-needs communities, it’s kind of trying to bring all of those kinds of communities under one roof, one time a year, to really celebrate and highlight the successes of children.”

The art show provides a unique opportunity for students with disabilities to create and present their work. Donnelly recalled a wheelchair-bound student who created her piece last year by holding a paintbrush in her mouth.

“The fact that she was able to do that and make art that was just so beautiful was so (attributable) to her as a person and as an artist,” Donnelly said. “And that she was able to overcome challenges and still make artwork that she was so passionate about.”

From now until Thursday, April 20, disabled students in the tri-state area can submit their art for the show with no entry fees. Submissions can be mailed to Y.A.L.E. School’s Ellisburg campus, 1 Connecticut Ave., or dropped off at that location on either Wednesday, April 19, or Thursday, April 20, from 3 to 5:30 p.m. 

The art show will be on display from 6 to 9 p.m., and will include an opening reception and open gallery the following day, Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information on how to submit artwork or to attend the show, visit yaleschoolnj.com/artshow.

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