Community Papers

Art of Being Together highlights community

Sig Stark was looking for a signature event to raise money and awareness for L'Arche Greater Vancouver and found it by walking down a hallway.

It was in that corridor of L'Arche's Sussex Avenue facility that Stark, director of fund development for the organization, saw the artwork produced by residents of its group homes for adults with developmental disabilities.

In them she saw an opportunity to include the residents of L'Arche and "introduce the gifts of people with developmental disabilities to the wider community."

That's how the Art of Being Together was born. The event, which takes place Saturday, March 9 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Nikkei Centre, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, in Burnaby, features original artworks by Metro Vancouver's emerging and leading artists.

The works are judged by their peers, members of the Canadian Federation of Artists, and the artists get a ready audience to sell their works to.

Also on display will be artworks produced by teams from L'Arche, comprised of people with and without developmental disabilities. Sponsors will get to choose from these works as part of their sponsorships.

Admission to the event is by a suggested donation of $5 and includes a silent auction, live music, a performance by Tetsu Taiko Drummers and a chance to participate in creating a community art piece called "My Community Rocks" under the guidance of Burnaby artist Jane Appleby.

The community art project will eventually be donated to one of L'Arche's neighbours, St. Michael's Care Home.

Stark said L'Arche hopes to raise $20,000 at the event, through sponsorships, donations and gallery fees on sales of the professional artists' works, money which will go towards improvements at its aging facilities.

Now in its fourth year, the event is something L'Arche residents look forward to, anticipating who they'll partner with on their art projects.

Jenn Smith teamed up with Lawrence Atwater to produce their work which includes photocopied fragments of a notebook.

Smith explained that Atwater has a strong speech impediment and cannot read or write but he always carries small notebooks with him and asks people to sign their name or write messages in them.

"Despite these barriers, he is able to use his notebooks to connect and build friendships here in the community," Smith said in a statement.

She emphasized L'Arche's respect for individuality and how there is no "right way" to do something. "Instead, we all help each other to achieve something with the means we have available."

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