Find ‘Passion and Joy’ at the University of Akron Gallery


How to quantify the value of the visual arts?

We live in a world that wants to put things into boxes and formulas so that we can feel like we have more control over them or understand them better.

This attachment to a semblance of predictability is highlighted when we examine how we make assumptions about people based on stereotypes. Basically, we can know that there are no absolutes and believe in the power of the individual.

Art review: “The Responsibility to Reveal” Exhibit Illustrates the Quality of Photographs in the Akron Art Museum‘s Collection

Too often we find ourselves working in a world that does not meet our needs or bowing to the will of a world that will not bow to us.

Where can a person living with developmental differences meet other people on a predetermined playing field? Where can society include them with empathy and compassion? Could the art world offer a connection that would add value to their lives and produce creations full of energy and vision that we might not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience?

“Passion and Joy,” featuring artwork from Ohio by practicing professional artists with developmental differences between Passion Works of Athens and Planet Joy Studio of Medina, is on display through April 15. at the Emily Davis Gallery at the University of Akron.

This exhibition highlights the idea that there is joy in the process of making and shows the power and originality of the artists’ personal brand. This emphatic energy can express the artists intentions while energizing the person viewing the work.

Passion Works is a collaborative community arts center. It was founded in 1998 by Executive Director Patty Mitchell, who envisioned collaborating with people based on individual interests and abilities.

Inspired by the work of Passion Works, Planet Joy opened in Medina in June 2018. As a collaborative studio, it encourages the exploration of imagination and creativity.

The artists featured in this exhibit have done many creative endeavors, from designing product lines and creating public works of art, to installing exhibits and enhancing the consumer experience. festival.

People have historically viewed these artists as “unviable and unemployable citizens”.

This exhibit helps counter such claims.

“If we can’t imagine something better, we’re stuck with the status quo in front of us,” Mitchell says. “And that’s why I’m looking for artists. They are considering new things. Better things. And we need to create more avenues for their societal involvement.

“Oh Hello,” a latex painting on collage by Gary Fromm and Carol Roberts, and “What’s Up? », a latex painting on collage, also by Fromm, highlights some of the instantaneous energy shared by the artists of this exhibition.

In “What’s Up?”, a bright green figure shape composed of circular dark green, blue red and black elements sits above a collage of different images of similar pink and white flowers. The different elements of the collage are framed in red. There is a fearlessness in this work full of movement, joy and humor.

“Appalachian Foothills”, an acrylic on recycled fabric work, was created by Stacey Strickmaker, Tiffany Grubb, John Coey, Troy Goins, David Dewey, Noah Hogan, Wendy Minor Viny, Tanner Ingle and Nancy Epling.

This painting features owls, beavers, amphibians, insects and flowers as well as a bobcat and deer. The flowers feature prominently and work as a unifying element throughout the composition with a pink to blue underlay of circular elements.

Each creature is depicted in an expressive style, perhaps none more so than the two cicadas that dominate the upper half of the painting. The two cicadas seem to float and fly, holding your eyes as you look around at this extremely active artwork.

“Two Rabbits”, an acrylic on recycled fabric work, is by Chris Beasley, Dar Whitlatch, Tiffany Grubb, Michelle Conroy and Wendy Minor Viny. The painting was composed on fabric originally woven in a floral pattern.

The floral aspect was carried through to the final piece through its “nature-based” subject matter. A green field with flowering shrubs is predominant. In the center, two orange and yellow rabbits surrounded by black.

Here, unlike the rest of the painting, some of the texture of the original fabric has been highlighted and enhanced with paint. The overall effect is more than charming.

This exhibition provides almost countless opportunities to engage with and appreciate the work presented at Passion Works Studio and Planet Joy Studio.

From sculptural works to the simplest line drawing, the various objects made by the artists show not only a zest for making and the creative process, but also a special skill and energy to appreciate, value and honor.

Anderson Turner is Director of Collections and Galleries at Kent State University School of Art. Contact him at [email protected]


Exposure: “Passion and Joy”

Location: Emily Davis Gallery, Folk Hall, University of Akron Myers School of Art, 150 E. Exchange St.

Appointment: Until April 15

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday

More information: or 330-972-5950


Comments are closed.