A new art exhibit is giving people on the autism spectrum a new way to express themselves, say those behind the project.
The collection, a partnership between Autism Connections Fredericton and the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, features a mixture of mediums - from paintings and pen, pencil and charcoal sketches to photographs and computer-generated images.
Jennifer Hunter, Autism Connections Fredericton's opportunities development manager, said the pieces debuted during an exhibit at the college in late April, but they're now on display at the autism centre's facility on Lincoln Road.
They'll be open to public viewing year-round during operating hours and, so far, she said, the response has been phenomenal.
"A lot of the artists, the families are really enjoying being part of something so special, and being able to celebrate their artwork," she said.
"It's been really nice for the artists to gain this exposure in the community, and to share their artistic talents."
Rick Hutchins, the centre's executive director, said the idea came from Meara Landsburg, who worked as a summer intern at the centre and who now attends the craft college.
"One day she was drawing on a sketchpad. I said: 'Wow, you're a really talented artist.' We started talking and we came up with this idea of how we could celebrate art," he said.
"We asked for art from the autism community. And we got it from all over - from people who make art as their profession down to young kids."
Landsburg said she's proud and honoured to see so many artists contribute to the collection.
"It makes me feel important and honoured," she said in an emailed statement. "Autistic artists have put their work on display for the world to see their talent."
Some contributors are non-verbal, said Hutchins, and it can be difficult for them to express themselves. But creating art has always been a vital outlet, and now they can reach a broader audience, he said.
"For them, the art is an expression, a way for them to use their talents," he said.
"This is an example of their creativity."
During a recent ceremony to unveil the exhibit at the centre, Hutchins said many attendees mentioned the project helped strengthen the feeling of community.
"A lot of these artists have used the centre. It was special to see their faces as they saw their art up on the wall. It gives self-esteem. It celebrates inclusion," he said.
"It's a good feeling."
Some of the artists have priced their works for sale for the public as well.
He said the response has been so positive that it may spread to other communities.
"We've had some other autism centres around the province saying: 'What a great idea. But we're not sure we could do it.' Well, we said: 'Maybe we could take this on the road?'" he said.
"If they'd like to have an art exhibit, we could bring our stuff, and they could add some local pieces. They thought that was pretty cool."
Reporter | Brunswick News Inc.
New Brunswick College of Craft and Design
Fredericton Community Foundation
Fredericton Direct Charge Co-Op
Nashwaaksis Lions Club
Hutson Myles, BMO Global Asset Management
Felix Dupont, Fidelity Investments Canada
Walmart Fredericton Southside Supercentre
Michael A. Elliott, 4th Artillery Regiment,
Royal Canadian Artillery
Colin Carnell, TD Financial Trust
Banks Professional Painters
Paul and Liz McDonnell
Fredericton Lions Club
NBTA Credit Union
Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Kin Club of Nashwaaksis
Kinsmen Club of Fredericton
On behalf of Autism Connections Fredericton, I invite YOU to become a patron of the Art is a Spectrum Gallery Project. This exciting new initiative celebrates the artistic talents of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the greater Fredericton Community. The Art is a Spectrum Gallery is the first of its kind within the province on New Brunswick.
Autism Connections Fredericton provides community support and awareness among parents, educators, professionals, and people living with autism. With 1 in 68 children today being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, we are finding the needs of our community to be growing exponentially. Funds raised through the Art is a Spectrum Gallery Project will be used to fund the gallery, as well as to support the many programs Autism Connections Fredericton Provides to the community such as:
Family Activities, such as Bowling, Sensory-Friendly Movies, and Social Groups
Community Outreach and Education
The ‘Art is a Spectrum’ Autism Art Gallery
Donations can be made through our website or by check to Autism Connections Fredericton. If you have any questions, please contact us at 450-6025, or email@example.com.
We thank you in advance for your consideration in supporting our very worthwhile cause.
Autism Connections Fredericton
Registered Charity Number: 8123 64420 RR0001