A beautiful mind transforms into a breathtaking canvas … painting a different picture for those with the challenges of disability. Their work and their words are so powerful, we let them tell the story.
Fernando Ramirez, Project Onward artist: “It’s a tornado scene. It’s part of our Americana show we’re having about mom, baseball and apple pie. This one took me about three days to do, a total about ten hours work.”
David Holt, Project Onward artist: “My name is David Alexander Holt. I’m a professional artist. This painting I just finished up is the pitcher Chris Sale. That’s his number, 49 … the sand and the grass. I am a Sox fan also.”
Bill Douglas, Project Onward artist: “I’ve been making art my whole life, so it’s nice to be in a place where they really support that.”
Rob Lentz, Executive Director, Project Onward: “We’re at the Bridgeport Arts Center. Project Onward has a 13,000 square-foot studio and gallery space. We have about 40 artists who work in the program. The majority of our artists, about 50 percent are on the autism spectrum. Other artists have a variety of mental illnesses.”
Bill Douglas: “I’m in the paranoid-schizophrenia kind of range. I’ve had depression my whole life, and just recently I had a major depression, which kind of took me out of work and everything. My mom, she died of cancer and I watched her die. My therapist got me to contact Project Onward. I’ve only been here five weeks, but it’s been the best five weeks I’ve had in a long time.”
Fernando Ramirez: “I’ve been part of Project Onward for about eight, nine years. A lot of bipolar disorder. I Feel paranoid a lot of times. I used to be afraid of crowds. Now, when I’m surrounded by people, I feel safer now. I draw lots of people. I study faces and capture expressions really fast. I always get that little gleam in the eye, that seems to be the trick.”
David Holt: “It makes me focus, painting getting to know each other, the people around the community, love and peace.”
Bill Douglas: “When I was in my major depression, I wasn’t even doing work. I was unable to do everything. I’m getting back to where I’m getting up in the morning and going here, and it’s making a difference in my physical health and my mental health.”
Project Onward artists keep 50 percent of any sales made through the program — the rest helps cover costs of materials and studio space. To learn more about their upcoming shows and events, go to www.projectonward.org
Upcoming events at Project Onward:
The new Americana exhibit “Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie” debuts May 16 with an Opening Reception held from 6pm – 9pm at Project Onward.
The Pet Portraits Picnic will take place June 28 from 12pm – 3pm. Guests are invited to bring a picnic lunch and their pets to meet the artists and commission a portrait of their favorite furry (or scaly, or feathered etc.) friend.