The visual arts class, led by current teacher/dcs Cristal Flores, is coming to the close of a weeks-long study of the artist’s greatest critique– the self portrait. It is safe to say that every visual artist makes at least one self portrait during their career. We might go farther to say that most visual artists make a number of self portraits during their career… in fact, we know some artists who’ve made themselves the subject of much of their work.
And why wouldn’t artists make their own portrait before attempting that of another? We know our own face better than any other. It’s the face we see in the mirror, and touch with our hands. We know every wrinkle and pore. What it is, and what it is not. And because we know how we see ourselves, we think we know how other people see us.
But do we?
Do people see us as we see ourselves, or do they see us differently?
And if they do see us differently, how do they see us?
And, does it matter?
And, is that why we make self portraits? To document what we see of ourselves, so that others will see it as we do?
As a program, we know what and who we are. People, artists, friends. We know our purpose. Coming to program every day to make art and be with each other. We know our abilities and disabilities. They don’t frighten us. Why would they?
But, people who don’t know our program don’t know what and who we are. They don’t know our purpose. They don’t know our abilities and disabilities, and that may frighten them.
This becomes obvious when we are looking for new teachers. Some applicants are completely interested in the position, right up to the point where they read the words developmental disabilities…
“Down’s Syndrome. What’s that?! Isn’t a syndrome contagious?”
“Mental Retardation. Am I even allowed to say that?!”
“Autism? Seizure Disorders?… really?? People are going to be having seizures?!”
“I’m not qualified to work with people like that.”
“Don’t they need nurses or something?”
We could get offended, and call them names. But that wouldn’t be fair. Or nice. And if there’s anything we know about ourselves, it is that we are fair and nice. We could say “Eh. So what? Who cares if people understand who we are and what we do?” But that would be dishonest, because we really do want people to know who and what we are. We’re awesome, duh.
So, we created this video– a self portrait. It shows people what we see– who we are, what we do, our abilities, and disabilities, and gives a brief glimpse into our awesomeness. Enjoy.
The Enrichment Center is designed for medium to high functioning adults with developmental disabilities. Our clients feed themselves, and take themselves to the restroom. They don’t need nurses. Yes, some of our clients have seizure disorders, and we may have one or two seizures occur at program each year… but we don’t think that a seizure looks like you think it looks. You won’t get in trouble for saying ‘mental retardation’. It’s just a diagnosis. Down’s Syndrome is not contagious. And no… you are not a bad person for wondering about any of those things.