The walls of the University Galleries in Uptown Normal are filled with joyous, colorful works of art. That's not at all unusual, except that this art was created right in the space where its being exhibited in a celebration of creativity, inclusion and collaboration.
Marc Making: Artists of Marcfirst features works created by individuals from Marcfirst, a local agency dedicated to supporting adults with developmental disabilities. For the past four months, Marcfirst has partnered with the University Galleries to host a series of workshops in the airy gallery space, allowing the artists a chance to explore new creative grounds with paintings, drawings, sculptures and more. This opportunity is more than creative, it's inclusive, said Galleries curator Jason Judd. Outreach workshops are a part of the mission of the University Galleries.
"This fits the bill perfectly," said Judd. "We like to think of ourselves as a laboratory of expression, somewhere that people can see art and make art, and we like to be facilitators of everybody in the community."
One of the Marcfirst artists is Josh, who has created a painting that Judd describes as really intriguing and striking. "It depicts these five tennis matches going on, with all these circles and squares. They're very abstracted, but at the same time, representational. I think it's very successful and great to look at."
"I try to visualize all kinds of stuff so I can do all kinds of drawings and paintings, " explained Josh. "I really enjoy this."
Iga Puchalska is Marcfirst's Arts Coordinator, and she feels this show is more than an opportunity for the artists to grow -- the community can do so, as well. "As a society, in general, we're not very exposed to artists with disabilities, and I feel like this is a great opportunity for our community to come and visit, some and see the works produce by Marcfirst artists and understand what they are capable of and see the beauty and the passion and the engagement that they've been cultivating throughout the past few months. It's definitely something I'm proud of, and I know they are, as well. I think the exposure is really important for a type of social change that needs to take place in our society."
Marc Making: The Artists of Marcfirst is currently up and continues through August 9 at the University Galleries.