By. Lauren Burr, Executive Director
Barrier-Free had its first-ever Art Gallery on September 10th & 11th! Since The Studio opened, participants have worked tirelessly on canvas paintings, sketches, origami, poetry, clay sculpting, and more. After being selected to be featured in Make Studio’s Art Gallery in Baltimore, Barrier-Free had the inspiration to do the same—giving half the proceeds to the artists and half to Barrier-Free as a fundraising effort
A total of 22 participants from our Life Skills & Social Studio created pieces to sell at The Art Gallery. Every artist sold at least two pieces of their work! One artist sold over 44 pieces of origami! Other artists sold art depicting their favorite cartoons and landscapes, while some sold poetry and clay creations.
Every element of The Art Gallery was operated by our artists! We made frozen Oreo treats and mocktails which involved a lot of preparation—a wonderful life skill component when event planning! We also did “Gallery Rehearsals” where we practiced where/how each person would be stationed at The Art Gallery. This helped us ease any anxieties and pressures about public speaking or where to put our bodies in a space once guests arrive.
The stations were made in rotations. There were greeters, check-out attendants, servers, and “minglers”. This ensured everyone had a role and each role worked on a certain task—like public speaking and social greetings, money management, or back and forth conversations.
Apart from the artists’ families, The Art Gallery pulled in over 80+ community members. In total, our neurodiverse artists sold over $2,000 worth of art and merchandise! A neurodiverse, artist, is an artist who thinks, behaves, and learns differently than what is “typical” in society. Neurodiversity encompasses a variety of neurological differences that stray away from neurotypical standards.
We were grateful to welcome Mayor Stacy Link of Sykesville, Dana Alonzi (Downtown Sykesville Connection Board President), and Julie Della-Maria (Downtown Sykesville Connection Executive Director). We appreciate the continued support from leaders in our town!
A big thank you to friends at Anchor Counseling Centers for being such supportive Downtown Sykesville neighbors and attending our gallery. Also to Jim James from Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences for stopping by and showing your support. Finally, to our wonderful friends from Target Community & Educational Services, Inc. for bringing such joyful energy!
After all the sales were recorded and calculated it was time for... PAYDAY! Our artists were thrilled to receive their well-deserved earnings from their art sales. Check out those SMILES! 😊
Art sales were split 50% directly to the artist and 50% back to Barrier-Free to support our Studio and programming.
Our first Art Gallery was a roaring success! Everyone was in high spirits and our artists owned the night! All guests happily engaged with each artist and were impressed with how each person had a role to play!
We thank all of our family members, friends, and our community for their unwavering support!
Barrier-Free's Life Skills & Social Studio opened on June 1st and has been jam-packed with energy and great times!
The Studio uses an integrated-arts model to bring life skill and social skill learning to life while maximizing engagement.
Conversations 101 is a Studio segment that blends social skill learning with improvisational acting.
How it works:
The activity begins as a whole group, with all participants in a circle. Two participants model a "good conversation," passing a ball back and forth with the dialogue exchanges. After observing we discuss, "what just happened that made that a 'good conversation'?"
Next, "bad conversations" are modeled, i.e., one-word responses, emotional dumping, being distracted. After observing we discuss, "what just happened that made that a 'bad conversation'?"
We brainstorm conversation strategies together. Ideas include using a person's clothes to spark conversation, finding mutual interests, or talking about universal topics like the weather.
Time to employ our skills! Participants pair off and begin conversating. Each partner pair passes an "imaginary ball" between them as the dialogue exchanges. Partners rotate three times.
Finally, we circle back up as a whole group and process. "What went well? What was difficult? What strategies helped you?"
Conversations 101 is a fast-paced activity, keeping participants engaged as they actively participate in their learning and practice. These conversations are then reinforced and referenced throughout the Studio session as we converse during breaks and other activities.
The Life Skills & Social Studio serves neurodiverse adults 18+ with no age cap, including those with intellectual/developmental disabilities and autism.
We are located in vibrant Historic Downtown Sykesville, at 7520 Main St #103 Sykesville, MD 21784.
The Studio is currently welcoming new members! Get started today!
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The Barrier-Free blog exists as a space to share Barrier-Free news, helpful information, and a creative sharing space.