MICHELLE T. BERNARD
Gallery 27 in Lincolnton is currently showcasing art produced at Art on Main in downtown Lincolnton. This art, which is created by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, will be on exhibition at Gallery 27 through March 29.
“We use the creative process to harness self process and self growth,” art program manager Jay Bolton said. “It’s amazing to see the results. It’s one of those processes that once people get comfortable with being creative you see a lot of internal growth and people start to blossom.”
Art on Main operates under the umbrella of UMAR, a non-profit organization and an agency and ministry of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. The organization has 23 group homes, one independent living home, nine apartments and four day programs allowing people with disabilities to experience independent living in home-like atmospheres, according to the group’s website.
Art on Main is staffed on a full-time basis by artists who guide the clients through their artistic journeys. Often, the people that come to Art on Main don’t realize they have creative abilities until they finish their first piece. If that piece sells, it can create a sense of self-value in their abilities, according to Bolton.
Jenna Webb is one of the arts counselors on staff at Art on Main and she’s been involved with the Gallery 27 showing.
“We have approximately 25 artists here and we picked one of their pieces that best describes their work to be in the show,” she said. “We wanted to show them that they are worthy of a show to give them more confidence in their abilities and their art work. We also wanted to spread the knowledge that we are here in the community. These artists are a part of the community and we want them to know that.”
The owner of Gallery 27, Stacey Pilkington-Smith, offered to have the showing at her studio.
“We like to do at least one community outreach project a year,” she said. “I think it’s important to show other artists who aren’t members here and wouldn’t normally show. It also exposes the other artists we have here. I think it’s important for art businesses to help and support one another and to cross-market.”
Pilkington-Smith, who is a mixed-media artist, said that it doesn’t matter that this art was created by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She believes art is art and doesn’t think it matters who’s creating it or where it’s coming from — people are still interested in it.
“We want to show art, no matter what it is,” she said. “People come in and they think it’s a good thing that we are showcasing it. Whatever label you may put on it, be it ‘outsider art’ or ‘folk art,’ they enjoy it and are intrigued by it.”
The showing is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. All of the art that’s on exhibit at Gallery 27, located at 808 Highway 27 West in Lincolnton, is available for sale. For more information on Art on Main call (704) 240-9838 or contact Gallery 27 at (704) 349-3972.