It’s a great accomplishment for artists to share their work with the community. For the next month, two extremely talented artists with developmental disabilities will have their art on display for the community to enjoy at the Studios of Jack Richard in Cuyahoga Falls.
Art students Amanda and Darick have pulled together their favorite pieces for their art show, mostly featuring oil paintings and drawings, and they worked with Studios of Jack Richard Owner, Mark Giangaspero to coordinate their own show. “They are on their own and completely independent here. Both are really good, hardworking students, brought skills to this studio and everyone here is really impressed with what they can do,” Mark stated.
Along with taking a class at the Studios of Jack Richard, Amanda and Darick have been refining their skills at Summit DD’s Dream Out Loud Studio, a creative outlet for individuals with developmental disabilities to flourish, both as artists and valuable members of their community. A few years ago, Dream Out Loud Studio connected with the Studios of Jack Richard after a Summit DD art show. The late Jack Richard was impressed with the work at the show, and arranged to have a few artists from the Summit DD studio to attend classes at his studio. Mark, who took over Jack’s studio, reflected on Jack’s relationship with the artists from Summit DD, “He treated them just like any other student. He never saw their disabilities.”
This equality is exactly what Amanda and Darick said they love about the Studios of Jack Richards. “It’s a great place where you feel like you are an equal, not like you have a disability,” Darick expressed. “People who receive services from Summit DD want to be out in the community.” Amanda added, “Mark has been a great mentor to us and is very encouraging to everyone here.”
Amanda and Darick, who have been drawing their whole lives, said the support they have gotten from Summit DD, family and friends have helped them grow into the artists and people they are today. Amanda expressed that her Service and Support Administrator, or SSA, is always encouraging her and others to be out in the community. Darick shared that he believes Summit DD is a great support system. “My SSA has always been active in my life,” he explained. “I know my meetings with her are all about me. She always asks me what I want to do.”
Darick’s SSA, Michelle Stiles, explained that person-centered planning allows individuals supported by Summit DD to express what they want and need. “Darick has identified the things that he wants, and we work together to make those things happen. You really have to listen and take time to know people in order to connect them to the right supports.” Through this process, Michelle and Amanda’s SSA, Paula Ingraham, have helped identify and connect Darick and Amanda to creative opportunities. “Amanda is willing to explore and tackle any opportunity thrown her way and she creates a lot of her own opportunities by expressing her own feelings,” Paula expressed.
Amanda and Darick’s art show runs through November and can be viewed at 2250 Front Street Cuyahoga Falls from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and all other times by appointment. This great opportunity for Amanda and Darick is just another example of how people with developmental disabilities can enhance their communities through their talents, skills and connections with the community.