Artists with Disabilities Featured at First Friday Reception May 3

The Whole Person (TWP) will highlight 17 local artists with disabilities at the third annual “Expressions” reception on Friday, May 3, at the Jones Gallery (1717 Walnut St., KCMO).

Expressions is a First Fridays art show, free and open to the public, featuring wine and cheese, live entertainment, and an opportunity to meet artists with a diverse range of talents and abilities. Artists include Jorge Castillo, Tiffany Hart, Sean Houlihan, Rauchelle McNeal, Waunder Oshinbanjo, Linda Pluschke, Andrew Rosenbarger, Chad Sellhorst, Gene Smith, Nancy Thane, Monica Viren, Brandon Aspenlieder, Joe Franklin, Andrescia Hooten, Sean S., Lesley Johnston and Allan Burgess. Artists will share their stories at Expressions, for example:

  • Lesley Johnston: Lesley’s stroke in 2003 left her with limited mobility, but her passion of designing and making jewelry only improved. She enjoys the artistic process of buying beads and making beautiful pieces of jewelry. “Jewelry makes me feel special and I hope that my pieces do the same for others. My greatest pleasure is seeing someone wear my art with pride.”
  • Allan Burgess: Allan has lived in Topeka and Oklahoma for most of his life and is an enrolled member of the Comanche Tribe of Oklahoma. A self-taught, lifelong artist, Allan pulls from his Native American heritage to create art that promotes self-healing. “My art has also been a recovery tool as I have coped with mental illness.  Vivid colors are used to depict emotions and I hope the viewer gains enjoyment from the art.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2011 American Community Survey), 10 percent of the population in the Kansas City metropolitan area has a disability.  However, the number of people with disabilities represented in the art community as artists and gallery visitors is well below 10 percent. Expressions seeks to break down the physical and attitudinal barriers of Kansas City’s rich and vibrant arts community for individuals with disabilities.

“Our goal is to help individuals with disabilities discover their own artistic abilities, expose the public to professional level artwork of people with disabilities and educate the community about the therapeutic power of art in the lives of individuals with disabilities,” says David Robinson, CEO of TWP. “We encourage everyone to join us for this opportunity to celebrate the strengths, talents, and abilities of people with disabilities.”

Accessibility options provided for the reception include Braille and large print formats of the event program, volunteer guides for descriptive audio tours, sign language interpreters, and an accessible restroom. Expressions is sponsored by UMB.

About The Whole Person
The Whole Person is a Center for Independent Living founded in 1978 as a private, non-residential, non-profit organization providing a full range of community-based services for people with disabilities.  For more than 30 years, TWP has been a leader in representing people with both mental and physical disabilities and providing independent living services to residents of Kansas and Missouri. TWP assists people with disabilities to live independently and encourages change within the community to expand opportunities for independent living.

Kellie Houx

Kellie Houx is a writer and photographer. A graduate of Park University, she has 20 years of experience as a journalist. As a writer, wife and mom, she values education, arts, family and togetherness.

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