Above: Maggie and Krista are interviewed by a camera crew at the Togetherness exhibit at the Government House.
“Kathryn was wondering if you’d like to sit next to her?”
I’ll never forget this thoughtful offer, posed by Creative Connections program leader Gray Gillies Mott, on behalf of artist Kathryn Titus. I was standing by myself near the entrance of the Sanctuary Theatre as I waited for the Arts Atlantic Symposium workshop to begin. As I turned around to answer, I saw exactly what I had been searching for, familiar faces and a welcoming invitation. It was this small act, a friend reaching out when I was feeling alone, that so succinctly exemplifies the L’Arche community; You belong and you are wanted, always.
This workshop, held in the fall of 2022, was hosted in partnership with ArtslinkNB, L’Arche Fredericton, and L’Arche Saint John. Professionals in the arts community spent the next hour discussing collaboration, inclusion, creativity and friendship. I’ve been to many professional workshops and they can vary in their ability to inspire. This day was different. The members of L’Arche made it clear to myself and the participants new to the L’Arche community that everyone was welcome and safe to express themselves. We created, we laughed, and most importantly we had real conversations. We were vulnerable, open, and we were challenged to consider perspectives beyond our own experience.
Just a month later, it was one of my greatest honors to be asked to assist in organizing Togetherness, an exhibition hosted by the Lieutenant Governor of NB, installed at the Government House in Fredericton. The exhibition was a collaboration between Creative Connections (L’Arche Saint John) and the Inspire Project (L’Arche Fredericton).
My job was a true pleasure. The prolific artists of Creative Connections had a plethora of artworks to curate for the exhibit that encapsulated the theme. The opening was a smashing success; we were able to connect with the public, celebrate the artists, and sell many of their artworks.
To have an exhibition in such a prestigious institution is a huge accomplishment and the artists showed such gratitude and pride seeing their work in this space. But I believe it is us, the viewers, who should be grateful. Yes, the art serves as an outlet for the artists, a way to voice their internal world. But another purpose of art and specifically this exhibit, is the opportunity for the public to hear these voices. In a culture that often doesn’t make space for the perspective of people with disabilities, especially in their own words, this exhibition did.
I want to extend my gratitude to the Government House, L’Arche Saint John, L’Arche Fredericton for giving me the trust and support to curate such an important exhibition.
To the artists; When the public is exposed to the artwork of people with disabilities, you create compassion, connection and we all become less alone. When I see your work, I understand myself and our world with better clarity. You create togetherness in everything you make. Thank you.
Artist and Educator
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