The ninth annual Arts Experience, a festival celebrating inclusion and the arts, will bring more than 1,000 participants together to explore artistic expression through music, movement and the visual arts. From Tuesday, April 3 through Friday, April 13, Hobart and William Smith community members will engage with youth, people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, and the general public from across the region through this year’s theme of “transformations.”
The Arts Experience is facilitated through a partnership with HWS and the Collaborative of NY, a network of 15 ARC NY chapters providing support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The festival will include 28 workshops led by instructors from NYSARC agencies, HWS faculty and students and local community members. All activities will encourage participants to make connections through visual arts, creative movement and music. Highlights include: “The Art of the Ordinary,” led by Arc of Yates Instructor Maggie Cougevan and Professor of Studio Art Nick Ruth; “House Dance Techniques” with Assistant Professor of Dance Kelly Johnson; and “Walk a Mile in their Shoes: Mirroring Movements” with Arc of Monroe Instructor Emily Brown and Professor of Dance Cynthia Williams.
“When we have opportunities to move creatively together during a dance workshop, or to work together on an art project, or even a brief moment to make eye contact and say ‘hi’ as we pass each other on the sidewalk, we can begin to break down barriers,” says Associate Professor of Education Mary Kelly, a co-coordinator of the festival. “Each connection we make can lead to a greater understanding about each other’s experiences and more awareness of the role we can each play toward contributing to a more inclusive world.”
In a workshop titled “Metamorphosis in the Making” led by St. Mary’s School (Canandaigua, N.Y.) Elementary Teacher Ryan Kincaid ’11 and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Darrin Magee, participants will engage with the theme of “Transformation” and the 2018 Community Read in the city of Geneva. Based on this year’s Community Read theme about the impact of overconsumption, participants will turn trash and recycling into artwork.
A full list of workshops is available at www.hws.edu/festival. All workshops are free, wheelchair accessible and open to the public. They will be held on the HWS campus in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center, the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts and HWS Fribolin Farm. Participants must register in advance here.
Additional programming throughout the festival will encourage participants to learn from other people’s perspective and experiences. Cheyanne Eisenhut ’21 will present, “My Invisible Illness & Guardian Angel at Work,” a talk about the independence she found with her service dog. Other events include a talk describing experience with Down syndrome, a theatrical performance by actors from Ontario Arc and a community sculpture installation by artists from 15 NYSARC chapters.
On April 13 at 12 p.m., the public is invited to a special hour of public performances and talks by artists, dancers, musicians and poets celebrating local artists with and without disabilities.
The Arts Experience began as a single issue of the Seneca Review about experiences with disability. Since then, it has grown into a two-week celebration of inclusion and the arts involving the collective partnership of community organizations, nonprofits and volunteers. The festival is co-sponsored by Collaborative of NY, Inc., Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Hillside Children’s Center.