Villanova, PA—The Villanova University Art Gallery celebrates the accomplishments of artists of all abilities. From February 2-March 26, the Gallery will partner with the Villanova Office of Disability Services to showcase some 100-plus works of art—including paintings, photographs, sculpture, and other media—by people who are living with disabilities throughout the Philadelphia area. Expressions and Impressions: Artists Living with Disabilities features 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 opened on Friday, February 2, with a reception to meet the artists that evening from 5:45-9pm. The exhibit continued until 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. McWilliams says, “Our mission in the office of Disability Services is to improve accessibility for and normalize the presence of disabled people on campus. Every February, 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.”
When McWilliams put out a call for submissions, he hoped but never dreamed the response would be so robust. Some submissions came from professional artists, like 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, and other information, contact the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. More information is available on the Gallery's website: www.artgallery.villanova.edu.