ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Artlink returns to Creative Clay with five teams who will meet weekly for four months in a mentoring, creating and exhibiting partnership. The unique pairing of professional and student was birthed in 1999 to give student artists with a disability the opportunity to work one-on-one with professional artists in the community. Participants are chosen based on their medium of concentration, skill level, experience, and demonstrated enthusiasm for the project.
Artlink is funded through a grant from National Endowment for the Arts and is one of Creative Clay’s seven programs that create arts accessibility for individuals with neuro-differences. In the true spirit of teamwork exists collaboration, the sharing of ideas, experimentation, and a mastering of artistic skills. Artist mentors also share the important skills of the business of art, how to create and sustain successful careers as working artists.
“Although Artlink was designed as a program to benefit artists with disabilities, I am always impressed by how much the professional artists get out of it,” said Marcy Miller, Creative Clay Director of Artlink Vocational Services.
“Inevitably, they will tell me that working with their partners was more personally meaningful than they anticipated–even transformative–and they overwhelming recommend the program to other professional artists.”
Each Artlink mentor teaches their partner how to craft an artist statement, budget for art supplies and skills for networking in the community. One is designated leader, the other student, but the partnership produces lessons for all. Relationships are formed and each learns from the other. Some of the professional Artlink artists are experiencing their first stint at teaching; likewise, for some students this may be their first experience in such a partnership. The potential for learning extends beyond the art produced. Artlink inspires student and teacher to continue to invest in the passion of art making by collaborating and furthering their education.
Five teams of two spend four months in the Artlink apprenticeship program. They track goals by logging their progress throughout the program, which culminates in a curated gallery exhibit this September at St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Creative Clay and the Artlink teams are also collaborating with local playwright Sheila Cowley to produce “Airlift,” a 10-minute production that tells the story about a girl who is a very law-abiding citizen, except when it come to the law of gravity. Creative Clay member artists will create the set pieces and participate in the act as parts of a moving set that includes buildings, cars, birds and clouds. Choreography will be coordinated by local dance professional Paula Kramer, and actress Lisa Tricomi will play the lead.
Here are the Artlink teams whose work will be exhibited at MFA:
- Marquise R. and Calan Ree
- Tyler B. and Lourdes Rosas Rasdall
- Cameron P. and Jonathan Michael James
- Tate F. and Mason Gehring
- Cory B and Gordon Bonnett
Each team also will produce retail items, such as limited-edition posters, prints, greeting cards, and a journal that documents, either visually or with text, the Artlink experience for the team.
Creative Clay’s mission is to help people with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives through access to the arts by providing expressive, educational, and vocational experiences. Creative Clay’s team of professional artists provide outreach art experiences to people with disabilities, as well as children, veterans and those in shelters. Follow Creative Clay on Facebook; on Instagram at @creativeclaystpete and on Twitter at @creativeclay.