Art in action.
Looking for local art? VSA arts of Mississippi highlights artists with disabilities through their programming around the state, including an exhibit this summer which runs through the end of July, at the Municipal Art Gallery in Jackson and features the works of the Community Art Group of adults with disabilities.
VSA arts of Mississippi, a local affiliate of the international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing art opportunities for people with disabilities, is also partnering with the Jackson Arts Collective to offer ArtBuds, a program that partners local artists with youth with disabilities.
"This is a great program that gives youth with disabilities a chance to be 'art buddies' with a local artist," says V.A. Patterson, executive director of VSA arts of Mississippi. A reception and exhibit at the Mississippi Arts Center in Jackson on Sunday, August 9, from 2-4 p.m. will feature collaborative pieces by each artist pair, as well as individual works by the local artists and youth.
But VSA arts is about more than visual arts. The artist-in-residence program at schools throughout the state offers students with disabilities the opportunity to work with Mississippi artists on everything from basket weaving to flute making, and from pottery to loom weaving.
"We go through the Mississippi Arts Commission artist roster and contract with individual artists, some of whom are artists with disabilities themselves, to go to schools near them and work with either an inclusive or special education art class for a couple of days," Patterson explains. She adds that since Hurricane Katrina, special efforts have targeted the Gulf Coast where funding, especially in the arts, is still an issue.
VSA arts also partners with USA International Ballet Competition (IBC), Belhaven College, and Methodist Rehabilitation Center to offer a dance program. Dancers with and without disabilities join to produce Tunes, Tutus and Turning Wheels, an annual performance.
With other programs offering professional development for teachers and artists, as well as museum docent and volunteer training on how best to accommodate people with disabilities, VSA arts of Mississippi is committed to the arts and to artists and art-lovers with disabilities in our state.