The goal of Canvas Day Habilitation programming is to support individuals who experience disabilities in fostering their artistic vision and voice by participating in the local arts community as active and engaged artists. This support comes in many forms. Not only do we work with artists on learning new techniques and skills, often by bringing in master artists to share their knowledge, but we also work with the artists on identifying long term projects and a focus for a body of work that they can showcase in community arts settings.
Showcase opportunities for Canvas Artists include gallery exhibitions at the Canvas, licensing opportunities for Canvas merchandise, and community gallery exhibitions coordinated by the Canvas staff. Examples of community exhibits include an Alaska State Museum group artist exhibit during the summer of 2013, inclusion of Canvas Artist work in group shows in the community, solo shows at the JACC and City Museums, as well as some artist work for sale at Annie Kaill’s gift shop. The Canvas staff are constantly working to find great opportunities to exhibit student work in the community.
REACH Artists who have developed a strength in a certain medium are also encouraged to teach, usually at Canvas events where they are working with the community. Teaching is a great opportunity for an individual to share their knowledge and skills, build confidence, and foster relationships with the community. As students demonstrate the ability to teach, the Canvas staff looks for teaching prospects and helps the individual to build their instruction skills. A great example of this is our annual Big Brothers Big Sisters art workshop in December. Each year a Canvas Artist is chosen to instruct a group of twenty six community members in an area of their unique expertise. Past participants have built confidence and exhibited a sense of pride in leading a group of this size.
The Day Habilitation program is a stepping stone toward inclusion, and the goal of the Canvas staff is always to work with individuals to use the arts as an outlet toward community engagement. We work to individualize their experience and support them in finding their unique voice.