If this wasn’t already made obvious by our Facebook and past events, Madison House has a strong love for and connection to the special needs art community. In partnership with the Universities at Shady Grove, we are in the midst of planning what will be one of our most exciting Arts for Autism events yet. It will take place during Autism Awareness Month this April, with the opening reception being held on April 3 at 6:30 pm on the Universities of Shady Grove campus.
In light of our upcoming arts extravaganza, my colleague, Adrienne, and I ventured to gain a better understanding of the artists and organizations who have made our Arts for Autism events so interesting in the past. We arranged a special visit to a phenomenal art studio, based out of Baltimore, MD. I’d like to introduce you to Make Studio. Their mission is”…to provide multimodal visual arts programming, including sales & exhibition opportunities, to adults with disabilities in a supportive and inclusive environment“. Tucked within a re-vamped industrial complex, a bright blue door leads 19 artists with disabilities inside and upstairs to a creative workspace, adorned with bold paintings, photographs, and drawings.
The studio was founded in 2010 by board-certified art therapists, Dr. Jill Scheibler and Cathy Goucher, and their colleague Stefan Bauschmid, as a means to pay homage to the “whole person” and to show that “art does not exist in a vacuum”. Adrienne and I had the pleasure of meeting both Jill and Cathy during our visit to Make Studio, and their passion and dedication to the artists in the room cannot be overstated. Make Studio staff, including Cathy and Jill, work together to operate a professionally equipped art studio for participating artists and to help these artists market their creations. They strive to not only help their artists evolve creatively but professionally as well.
The Make artist family was warm and welcoming, shaking our hands, ensuring Adrienne and I felt right at home. One artist, Kareem Samuels, even agreed to set aside time to speak with us and answer questions about his art. Religious and intellectual, Kareem’s current series is a blend of conceptual innovation and spiritual connectivity, woven into an imaginative dream setting known as the “City of Truth”. Modeled after his beloved Baltimore, the “City of Truth” is home to various characters of Kareem’s invention – most with superpowers. Among the team of “Bible Heroes”,”Bible Boy” is considered most prominent, combating evil forces with his vast knowledge of The Bible. One of the most profound influences in Kareem’s life is his church involvement, and religious themes are strongly evident in his works. When I asked Jill about her work with Kareem, she asserted that, “He is always early and works all the way through [his session].” As you can tell by the pictures, Kareem’s demeanor exudes discipline and professionalism. He speaks carefully and thoughtfully and takes his artistry very seriously.
Upon our departure from Make Studio, I asked Kareem, “What is your favorite thing about creating art here?”
“Make Studio inspires me,” he answered.
“Well, what aspect of Make Studio inspires you most?” His reply: “The other artists.”
Support the Make artists by purchasing this awesome Randy Quaid T-shirt from the Make Studio online store!
About the author: Shannon Doty, Coordinator, Special Events and Social Media for Madison House Autism Foundation, tutors a special needs adult, and is an IISS provider for Changing the Lives of Children with Autism. Recently obtaining her B.A. in psychology from UMBC, her greatest goals are to foster meaningful connections with those on the spectrum and their families, increase autism awareness through social media and blogging, and creatively help to solve problems affecting autistic adults and children. While she is not busy working on the Autism Housing Network, Shannon can be found cooking up culinary masterpieces at her apartment in Silver Spring, MD. (By the way, she loves her Randy Quaid T-shirt from Make Studio!)