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
Art Ability 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. The
most recent exhibitions 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, Art Ability 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 was named a Keystone of
Accessibility by Governor Tom Ridge and the Pennsylvania Council on the
Arts, one of only 12 arts organizations so honored.
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 as an international, twelve-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.
We welcome any artist interested in participating to contact us at ArtAbility@mlhs.org
or call 484.596.5607
to provide your name and contact information for our mailing list.
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.