Creative Power: VSA Wisconsin’s Traveling Exhibition is on view at the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids through November 30. The exhibition features 30 award-winning works of art by children and adults with disabilities from Wisconsin. The show is comprised of work in a variety of media, including paintings, drawings, prints, and mixed media. The artists hail from cities and towns throughout Wisconsin.
An artist talk featuring award winning VSA artist Dan Sullivan, will be held on October 26 at 6:30pm. A reception and performance by the VSA Choir of Wisconsin Rapids will follow Sullivan’s presentation. The concert is in celebration of the VSA Choir of Wisconsin Rapid’s 20 year anniversary. The concert will feature a fun medley of commercial jingles as well as the choir’s favorites from throughout the years.
Sullivan, who is legally blind, is an advocate of folk art with its emphasis on shapes, contrasts, and colors which quite literally reflect the way he sees life. He focuses on transforming items as ordinary as old fence posts into not-so-ordinary artistic duck decoys. Shying away from power tools, all work is done with just a handsaw, rasp and hammer. Dan says, “Being cracked, splintered and rough-edged does not make a weathered fence post useless. These things only add to its character. With some persistent crafting and a touch of imagination, even an old piece of wood can be transformed. Perhaps this is how those of us with disabilities need to be perceived. Once given the opportunity to adapt, we each have the potential to evolve into a work of art.”
Among the works featured in the exhibition is “Hope” by Pita Daniels and “Pink Pegasus” by Julius Trees Parrish. Pita’s acrylic on canvas is a breathtaking contrast of light and dark. He says, “I try to express my emotional and spiritual inner world with abstract expressionism, while letting the many landscapes I have lived in influence the image. I love using vivid color, simple shapes and strong line to make my personal statements about life and the world we live in.” Daniels has been influenced by Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Zao Wu-Ki and Georgia O'Keefe and often paints to music.
Parrish lives with autism and has been painting with acrylics for about six years. He likes working with acrylics because of the vibrancy of the colors and the ability to create texture in his paintings. His award winning work “Pink Pegasus” portrays a stylized silver-grey Pegasus with brown eyes and hooves. The background gradually moves from a dark rich red at the bottom to a deeply hued pink at the top.
VSA Wisconsin uses the arts to expand the capabilities, confidence and quality of life for adults and children with disabilities. By using the arts to enhance education, advance socialization and promote inclusion, programs like the Creative Power exhibition make it possible for more people with disabilities to contribute to the social, cultural and economic life of their neighborhoods and workplaces.
VSA Wisconsin began in 1985 and conducts multidisciplinary arts programming in nearly 25 cities and towns annually. Programs include artist residencies in PreK-12 classrooms and in community settings; community choirs; creative art and music classes and workshops; art sales events; training and professional development for artists and educators; and disability awareness training.
VSA Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that celebrates the arts and accomplishments of children and adults with disabilities throughout the state by organizing exhibitions, performances and other special events. VSA Wisconsin choirs are conducted in Madison, Stoughton, Oshkosh, Appleton and Wisconsin Rapids.