The Villanova University Art Gallery has partnered with the Villanova Office of Disability Services to celebrate the accomplishments of artists of all abilities with the exhibit “Expressions and Impressions: Artists Living with Disabilities.” The exhibit will showcase more than 100 works of art—including paintings, photographs, sculpture and other media—by artists who are part of the communities at Inglis House, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, The Arc of Delaware County, and Independence EDGE Studio, as well as members of the Villanova community.
“Expressions and Impressions” opens Friday, February 2, with a reception at the Gallery to meet the artists that evening from 5:45 to 9 pm. The exhibit will be on display through Monday, March 26. The Art Gallery is located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Convenient on-campus parking is available. More information is available on the gallery’s website at www.artgallery.villanova.edu.
“Expressions and Impressions” was coordinated by Stephen McWilliams, Villanova’s Director of Disability Services. “Our mission in the office of Disability Services is to improve accessibility for and normalize the presence of disabled people on campus,” McWilliams said. “Every February for Disability Awareness Month, we host a series of events that highlight the accomplishments of disabled people in our community and increase awareness of disability issues. An exhibit in the Art Gallery—right at the heart of campus—will offer students, faculty, and guests a new window into the experience of people with disabilities. We hope it will also increase viewers’ appreciation of the artists’ abilities.”
According to McWilliams, when he first put out a call for submissions, he hoped, but never dreamed the response would be so robust. Some submissions came from professional artists, such as the members of Independence EDGE Studio, a collective of “thriving artists with disabilities.” Other submissions came through art therapy programs like the one at Magee Rehab, where many participants are learning to live with newly-acquired disabilities.
Julie Nolan, M.A., A.T.R, an art therapist on staff at Magee, says, “The act of creating art can serve as a living metaphor or representation of a person’s resilience, as well as the ability they maintain despite what abilities might have been lost. In some cases, those exploring art for the first time in their adult lives learn of a skill they didn’t know they had or were capable of developing. Conversely, the physical artwork that is created can serve as a visual representation of a person’s internal experience, which often is complex and difficult to put into words. The artwork not only allows the objective viewer to understand the artist’s experience on a deeper level, but also may help facilitate self-reflection, identity exploration, and understanding for the artist.”
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is the primary office at Villanova University with specialized knowledge and experience in physical disability issues. ODS also advises faculty on the policies and procedures relevant to students with disabilities and acts as a general information and referral service on disability issues.
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. -11 p.m. For extended and weekend hours, as well as other information, contact the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. More information is available on the Gallery's website: www.artgallery.villanova.edu.