Cannon Gallery of Art at Western Oregon University is pleased to present Walk This Way, a vibrant and varied exhibition celebrating the artists of Living Studios, an art studio in Corvallis, Oregon where adults experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities have daily access to materials, community engagement, artistic visibility, and opportunities for collaboration. Walk This Way features artwork made for art’s sake. Within this exhibit are stunning examples of craft and attention to detail, although for many Living Studios artists, art-making is solely an experiential phenomenon, the results of which may be inconsequential. In this artwork there exists the intrinsic magic of presence and focus in art-making, unsullied by the expectations of what art “should” be. The work is fresh and engaging, colorful and full of possibility.
Walk This Way opens Wednesday, April 5th, and includes an artists’ reception from 12 – 2 p.m on April 12th. The exhibition runs through Friday, May 5. The Cannon Gallery of Art is located in WOU’s Campbell Hall and is open Monday – Friday, 9 – 5 or by appointment. Contact Gallery Director, Paula Booth with any questions: 503-838-8607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you artist Rachel Mulder for writing this insightful essay...
WALK THIS WAY, an exhibition celebrating the artists of Living Studios
Walk This Way is a showcase of the unbridled creativity that flourishes within the walls of Living Studios. Located in Corvallis, Oregon, this art studio provides adults experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities daily access to materials, community engagement, artistic visibility, and opportunities for collaboration. People are invited to explore drawing, painting, installation, fiber arts, mixed media, performance, music, and most recently ceramics.
Within this exhibit are stunning examples of color theory, craft, and attention to detail and composition, but for many artists here, it is solely an experiential phenomenon. The results may be inconsequential. For some, no external validation is sought or necessary. Here, there exists the intrinsic magic of presence and focus in art-making, unsullied by expectations of what art “should” be.
In the catalog for the 2017 exhibit We. featuring artists in this community at Portland Art Museum, this phenomenon of rawness is described so well: [This work] exemplifies a rich history of idiosyncratic techniques and methods largely honed through self-directed learning, ingenious use of available resources and the latitude to create freely.
There is almost an inversion of privilege that exists here: many of these artists would likely lack the funds to obtain the space and materials to create, along with barriers to advanced education or training. Pointing out this sort of mirror world is not meant to romanticize the oppression that many of these artists have faced in their lives and generationally. After all, sheltered workshops were the predecessors to places like Living Studios, and if we delve deeper, the tragedy of our disabled ancestors who were institutionalized by the state.
This is not a plea for pity – it’s an invocation for artists making art for art’s sake. Regardless of barriers, creating for the sake of creating is the name of the game here.
The vaudeville joke of this exhibition title, Walk This Way, plays on the fact that it is an invitation to follow in a certain direction, and a summons to create your own art with abandon. Consider the barriers you do or don’t have to make the art of your wildest dreams. Reject the teachings you have learned, dig into your guts to create what you want. Be the silliest or truest or rawest version of you, why don’t you?
In this moment where we are faced with many of our old worlds collapsing while rebuilding new ones, it feels essential that we hold on to what is glimmering; the fresh green shoots of possibility that exist where we are, when we are.