VSA Arts is an international non-profit and an affiliate of the Kennedy Center, that is dedicated to “creating a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.”
There are VSA networks and affiliates in many locations around the world, so you can volunteer to make sure the arts, both as audience and creator, are accessible to all. They have announced a new roster of teaching professionals for their 2010 education programs, expanding the voice of disability.
- Kemlin Tan Bappe, a visual artist originally from Singapore, is artistic director for Galleria Imago Dei. In addition to creating batik style paintings, she also teaches workshops with World of Difference, an inter-cultural youth organization. Bappe has dyslexia.
- Tom Harmon is a multi-media artist who paints in watercolor, acrylics, and oils, and who sculpts in clay. For eight years, Harmon, who is deaf, has been the Senior Artist in Residence for the VSA arts of Mississippi Community Art Group, where he teaches a weekly art class for adults with disabilities.
- Richard Jenkins has published work as a visual artist, cartoonist, and illustrator for a variety of sources – including a teacher’s manual, a children’s book, graphic novels, and magazines – and he has also exhibited his artwork in regional museums and galleries. Jenkins, who is hearing impaired, has trained educators in arts integration and inclusion.
- Marquetta Johnson creates hand-dyed textiles, quilts, and collectibles, and she is highly active in Atlanta community arts programs. Johnson, who is paraplegic, is currently a teaching artist with VSA arts of Georgia.
- Sharon Leary, a potter and teaching artist, specializes in functional high-fired pottery that combines elements of American and Asian ceramic traditions. Her ceramic work provides a creative activity for pain management of her chronic acute migraines, as well as an artistic vehicle for expression. Leary works primarily with elementary school students on arts integrated lessons that animate core academics with motivational arts activities.
You want to be a part of this. You cannot help but be inspired by people who absolutely will not be stopped. Especially if there are areas in your life where you are feeling powerless…to see limitations that have no hold over someone is incredibly powerful. Don’t you wish that for everyone? Especially young people? Engage in this.