Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Driven" - featuring work by artists with disabilities

"For the sixth year, VSA arts and Volkswagen of America, Inc., have partnered to recognize and showcase young artists with disabilities, ages 16–25, who are living in the United States. This collaboration supports these artists at a critical time when many are deciding whether to pursue the arts as a career. The award validates, and helps finance, that life-defining choice.

VSA arts sent more than 20,000 calls for entry to high schools and colleges around the country, inviting submissions that illustrated the theme 'Driven.' Participants were asked to consider the motivations behind their work—what moves them to create. The call also encouraged artists to contemplate the relationship between life, art, and disability. Selected from 204 submissions, these 15 finalists were awarded a total of $60,000 generously provided by Volkswagen of America, Inc."

From VSA Arts' website.

The image above, "Untitled," is from one of the talented artists, Jessica Merrell of Albuquerque, New Mexico. According to Merrell, who was born with epilepsy, "I started a new body of work dealing with epilepsy and finally felt comfortable opening up a dialogue about it.” This new body of work centers around mandalas, which are ritualistic, geometric designs symbolic of the universe, used in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid to meditation. According to Jessica's artist statement, “I am influenced by my disability and the theories of Carl Jung. In his theories on the subconscious mind the mandala is an instrument of meditation, concentration, and self-immersion. The mandala is a symbol of healing in every culture. Working in this format has an ordering effect and is a traditional antidote to chaotic states of mind.”

To see all the work by the 15 chosen artists please take a look at VSA Arts' website here.

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