Art Ability is
dedicated to creating community awareness of people with
disabilities, and encouraging people with disabilities to reach beyond
their limitations and find fulfillment and inspiration through art.
Art Ability: Past and Present
The Art Ability Program offers a unique and accessible venue for artists
with disabilities to display and sell their work. In addition to
supporting Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital’s vision and mission to advocate for
those with disabilities in our community while advancing the artistic
and financial success of artists with disabilities, the art in the
exhibition is used daily to motivate and treat patients at the Hospital.
Art Ability began at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in 1996 as an eight-week
exhibit and sale of work by artists with disabilities. Now, in addition
to the annual exhibitions, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital is an actively
collecting institution whose permanent collection of over 300 objects is
on display throughout the year serving as a showcase for, and
celebration of, artists with disabilities.
At its inception, the annual exhibition and sale included approximately
40 participating artists and 200 pieces of artwork displayed. Today, the
exhibit and sale is ten-weeks in length and in 2011-2012 featured more
than 400 pieces of art, sculpture and jewelry by 195 artists
representing 32 states and 7 countries. In the 2010 exhibit, more than
60 artists sold 134 pieces of work and $37,100 of sales proceeds were
provided directly to artists. Additionally, $7,500 was awarded to 33
artists for artistic excellence
Art Ability includes the following major components: a twelve-week
annual, international juried exhibition and sale of art and fine crafts
produced by individuals with disabilities held each fall; community
outreach and education opportunities including satellite exhibitions and
interactive demo days; our permanent collection of artwork and the
incorporation of artwork into the patient experience; and a corporate
art acquisition program.
In recognition of its efforts, the Art Ability Program was a recipient
of a 2009 Inglis Award for Continuing Excellence from the Inglis
Foundation. This award honors the performance of non-profit
organizations in the Philadelphia region that enhance the quality of
life for people with physical disabilities. In 2000, Art Ability Program
was named a Keystone of Accessibility by Governor Tom Ridge and the
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, one of only 12 arts organizations so
Artists receive 80 percent of proceeds from the sale of their pieces,
with 20 percent earmarked to support the Hospital’s
nationally-recognized patient treatment programs.
Annual Exhibition and Sale
Art Ability has as a primary focus an international, ten-week juried
exhibition and sale of art and fine crafts that features work by artists
with physical and related cognitive disabilities, and hearing and visual
impairments. Participating artists express their creativity through
painting, photography, sculpture, fiber arts, stained glass, jewelry and
fine crafts. Through these creative modes of expression, artists are
able to convey their talent, receive recognition for their work, and
often also to further progress in recovering from a life-altering
illness or injury.
The event is held every fall. Proceeds of the Art Ability opening
reception help support Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital patient and community
Permanent Collection of Work
Pieces from the hospital’s permanent Art Ability collection (230+
pieces) are displayed at wheelchair height throughout the halls of the
hospital year-round for our more than 6,500 patients to enjoy. The
collection provides continuous inspiration to the hospital’s patients,
their families and visitors. The hospital clinical staff members often
incorporate utilization of Art Ability work into their daily treatment
activities with patients. Staff motivates patients by using the
collection as tangible evidence of their potential to return to
meaningful, productive lives.
Private tours are available upon request.
Community Outreach and Education Opportunities
Traveling satellite exhibitions of Art Ability artwork are a key
component of the program and have been successful in generating enhanced
awareness of the talent and skill of our artists; in addition to
communicating that disability is as personally limiting as you make it.
Over the past 17 years, Art Ability artwork has been on display at
numerous high profile venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine
Arts, Philadelphia’s Independence Starts Here! “Art in the City” project
at City Hall and at the Philadelphia Airport. We have also displayed
work at many small, local venues such as the West Chester and Malvern
Gallery Walks, the Shipley School and the Newtown Square Public Library.
Interactive Demo Days
During Demo Days, participating Art Ability artists share the knowledge
of their craft with people of all ages with disabilities. These half-day
programs include interactive tours of the exhibition or permanent
collection and involve Art Ability artists who share the practice of
their craft and their disabilities. Each artist then works in a small
group and every participant creates a piece of work under the artist’s
Corporate Art Acquisition Program
Art Ability also serves as a resource for corporations to help meet
their need for art for their corporate art collections. Original works
of art by artists with disabilities are now hanging in the offices of
the Bryn Mawr Hospital Health Center, Comcast Corporation, Deloitte
& Touche, Shannondell at Valley Forge, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Kirby
Bates Associates, and Bryn Mawr Hospital. We thank our corporate
partners for their visible support of empowering artists with
disabilities and supporting Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.