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Learn about The Power of Resilience at Frist Art Museum       

Sami Zanni. In a Bubble, 2023. Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist

The Frist Art Museum presents “The Power of Resilience,” an exhibition featuring works by more than 80 adult artists with disabilities who are served by five social service agencies in Middle Tennessee. The exhibition includes individual and collaborative artworks and will be on view in the always-free Conte Community Arts Gallery from August 25, 2023, through April 1, 2024.

These creations were inspired by the notion of resilience—the ability to withstand, adjust to, or recover from life’s difficulties, often by overcoming fear, isolation, and insecurity. “By focusing on the artists’ unique abilities and boundless creativity, this exhibition promotes growth, healing, and empathy among all people,” says exhibition curator and community engagement director Shaun Giles.

Guided by teaching artists, groups at AbleVoices; Borderless Arts; Friends Life Community; Healing Arts Project, Inc.; and Metro Parks disABILITIES made works of art that address themes of identity, visibility, healing, and more. To create greater community and personal self-awareness, AbleVoices encouraged its photographers with disabilities to reflect on and express their challenges, interests, and strengths.

In a collaborative project, participating artists from Borderless Arts created an emotionally expressive abstract work focused on both devastation and revitalization using fabric shapes, textures, and colors. Friends Life Community artists constructed a collaborative quilt of symbolic images sewn alongside their own portraits to celebrate both community and individuality.

Responding to the themes of human nature and mother nature, the paintings and collages made by Healing Arts Project, Inc., represent interpretations of personal resilience, regeneration, and the four seasons. In three projects, participating artists from Metro Parks disABILITIES created layered paintings, torn and reassembled watercolors, and mixed-media works to symbolize post-traumatic growth and recovery.

AbleVoices is a nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to amplify the voices of people with disabilities through the powerful medium of photography and, in doing so, foster more inclusive communities. Their flagship program, Photography for Self-Expression, is offered in schools, community organizations, and virtually.

Graham, Bradley, Nic, Galo, Randle, Sean, Sam, Grant, Rebekah, Isabel, and Sarah. Powerful As I Am, Community Quilt, 2023. Relief prints and silk screen on fabric. Courtesy of the artists

Healing Arts Project, Inc. (HAPI) provides artistic opportunities for persons in mental health and addiction recovery to promote healing, community awareness, and inclusion. HAPI exists to fill a gap in recovery and rehabilitation services by providing free art classes taught by professional artists, art exhibition and publication opportunities, and outreach events.

The Metro Parks disABILITIES Programs provides individuals with Intellectual and Developmental disABILITIES (IDD) and their families and caregivers opportunities for sports, arts, outdoor activities, cultural experiences, and social interactions.

The mission of Friends Life Community is to provide opportunities for teenagers and adults with developmental disabilities to grow personally, develop socially, and be active members of the community. Their Immersive Weekday Program provides person-driven support through group learning and community-based classes.

Borderless Arts Tennessee (formerly VSA Tennessee), established in 2001, is a nonprofit organization committed to inclusive and accessible arts programs for people with disabilities, enhancing educational curriculum, enriching creative expression, empowering career development, and encouraging community engagement.

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