The last day of summer, and the last day before school started, we visited the Art Gallery and working Studio of Living Opportunities. This is an organization in our town that works with the mentally disabled. All the artists are challenged. Yet, in this place, they are known as the artists. They refer to themselves by the art they are most known for… “I’m the one that did that dragon piece,” “I’m the one who does cartoon faces.” They were so excited to show us their art on the walls.
My eight-year old and four-year old were mesmerized by the art in this place, and a little awed by the artists. Bean, our four-year old, made friends with a guy named Gabriel who was working on a cut-out collage. My artist, Ben, stood beside me and watched a guy in a wheelchair as he dabbed a paintbrush soaked in paint onto a work in progress.
That was the point where I lost it, and became overwhelmed with emotion for these people. They are overlooked in their lives on many occasions. People tend to look the other way because they don’t know how to interact with people in grown-up bodies with the mentality of 7-year olds. Sometimes they drool. But here, we focus on their hearts, on their enormous artistic gifts. My son has ridiculous artistic gifts, and also so many other things going for him. He will have struggles in life, but nothing compared to these people. I was overcome with emotion, both gratitude, and wonder, love for my boys, and love for the whole world of art, especially the people who came up with this place, who saw that underneath the challenges were people with artistic gifts, and things to say, and tremendous beauty to share with the world. It was such a rich experience. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it.