Local program providing a voice through art
Art is a means of communication, a way to provide a voice to thoughts and feelings, and local artist Lindsay Joy Hamilton is working with adults who attend Community Living Fort Frances and District to help celebrate their distinct voices.
Hamilton wrapped up a nine-week course in December, her third such one with Community Living since the fall of 2011, and the public now can see what has come out of those classes thanks to a display at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre.
“The overall purpose of the art course is to promote creativity and to create a forum for sharing the unique artistic voices of Community Living—all the while making a space for socializing and building community,” said Hamilton.
“It’s meant to empower, explore, and celebrate the diverse voices in our community,” she enthused.
This ties in perfectly with Community Living’s mission to “inspire possibilities for individuals in service to participate in the community and to promote inclusion for all,” noted Allene Perusse of Community Living.
“We hope to be able to offer service users the opportunity to enjoy more unique experiences like this,” she added.
And it seems the service users enjoyed it, too.
Harold Ogier said he liked the drawing portion of the course, as did Jerry Zub.
“I draw all the time,” Zub noted yesterday at the library, where he, Ogier, Terri-Ann Caul, Vanessa Morrison, and Clifford Hatfield gathered for a photo op.
“I learned a little bit in the last couple years,” he smiled, referring to the fact he attended past art instruction sessions with Hamilton.
Ogier said he enjoyed the classes with Hamilton, but added with a chuckle that he’s not sure how much he learned as he still considers himself “a terrible artist.”
Caul said she learned a lot, although she already makes quite a bit of art at home.
She added the “art nights” with Hamilton were “fun,” noting drawing was her preferred creative outlet and that she likes to draw animals.
Caul also said it was nice to see all of the art on display at the library for everyone to see.
Hamilton said she found her students’ art to be very interesting, explaining that art made by people with developmental disabilities or who have little to no art training is called “outsider art.”
“What comes of it is often a sense of loose, open experimentation,” she remarked.
“They’re not worried about technique,” she added. “They’re worried about transmitting the image that they have in their head out in whatever way it comes out.”
Hamilton said the result is a free type of art that isn’t necessarily representative of anything at all—it’s more about the enjoyment of creation.
“So that’s what I see out of it—these pieces that are full of personality, lots of character, and they have a freer sense than somebody who has studied and considerate of their technique.
“It’s inspiring to see because it speaks to the immediate passion of creating, as opposed to the canon of art, or history of art, trying to make something that looks a certain way or has an idea at the end of it,” Hamilton added.
“It’s usually purely for the sake of creating.”
Hamilton said she introduced some art techniques to her students. Some would consider them and attempt them, some would adopt them, while others would stick to doing their own thing.
“And that’s really great, too—that confidence in wanting to create something at that immediate moment,” she reasoned.
To provide a little insight to the exhibit now at the library, the big painting in the middle of it is a collaborative piece.
All the students worked on the abstract background, then they stencilled the profiles of the artists onto the work.
The other, smaller works on display are a series of exercises they did in class. The work explores abstraction, collage, painting, and drawing techniques.
This is the third set of art classes Hamilton has conducted with Community Living participants, meeting for two hours once a week for nine weeks.
But the difference this time was that it was held in her studio at the Little Beaver Cultural Centre instead of Community Living facilities.
“That made a difference. It really opened us up to doing bigger pieces,” noted Hamilton.
“We also did some sculpture and more crafty things because we had more open facilities we could make a mess in.”
The different venue also fulfilled a mandate of Community Living to see its service users get out to different places in the community more and to socialize with community members.
This also marks the first time Hamilton’s students’ work has been displayed at a public venue. The other courses were followed up with a mini art show at Community Living for the artists’ friends and families, where their artwork was up for two hours and then taken home.
“[The library] allows them to have more exposure, to draw awareness to the programming at Community Living, showing that there is diverse programming through Community Living,” said Hamilton.
“It’s a public space and it allows them to share their art at their leisure, as opposed to a set block of two hours—maybe not everyone can attend that two-hour display, so this is really great,” she added.
“A big thanks to the library for allowing me to share their work with the community.”
Hamilton, who also thanked Community Living and her father, Bob Hamilton (who helped frame the art pieces at the library), likely will be conducting another nine-week art session with Community Living service users this spring.