Individuality through art

Exhibit features young adults with disabilities

Photo courtesy of Upstream Arts

HUDSON, Wis. — Upstream Arts, Valley Friendship Club (VFC), The Phipps Center for the Arts, ArtReach St. Croix and New York-based Photographer Dirk Anschütz are partnering with the aim to show the complex individual behind young adults with disabilities in one of the latest exhibits to hit The Phipps.

The exhibit, called “Upstream” is an exhibition of portraits by Anschütz, which aims to show young people with disabilities in an unsentimental light, focusing on the complex individual behind what is normally seen in the news according to Upstream Arts Executive Director Julie Guidry.

“I think it’s not uncommon that individuals with disabilities when portrayed are portrayed as overcoming their obstacles and they are more defined by their disability rather than as the intricate person that they are,” Guidry said. “We want to add that kind of depth in these photos.”

Upstream Arts is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that strives to create partnerships with community groups to give people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the arts and learn life skills.

The exhibit, funded by the Minnesota Land, Water and Legacy Act, is two-and-a-half years in the making. It will travel from the Phipps to ArtReach St. Croix and then to the Bloomington Theatre and Arts Center. Accompanying events also include several receptions, a workshop and a panel discussion.

VFC members have recently begun a fall residency on portraiture and will display their works along with Anschütz in the exhibit at ArtReach St. Croix on Nov. 6.
“The class filled up immediately,” said Susan Kane, one of VFC’s founders. It’s not surprising, and (the participants are) almost all new. It’s different than anything we’ve done before, and the kids are just having a ball.”

The residency is done in tandem with Anschütz’s exhibit that takes place at the Phipps beginning this weekend.

Guidry said that what people can expect from the exhibit itself is a beautiful body of work with striking visuals. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

“We’re working on creating a balance of advocacy and art in an unbelievable canon of portrait photography and to create a new experience to engage people in the arts,” Guidry said. “What people take away from the exhibit is totally up to them, but we’re hoping to challenge people’s view of people with disabilities and engage a larger perspective and create meaningful interactions between the disability community and the public at large.”

Over the past two weeks, Guidry said that Upstream has been working with VFC to teach them about the different elements of photography in preparation to begin working with Anschütz this upcoming Monday.

“We’ve been using iPhones shot from above and below, and we’ve been talking about how it changes the story,” Guidry said. “It’s about portraying yourself, and it’s especially important with portrayal being all over with social media. For us it’s really exciting.”


If you go

At the Phipps…
What: “Upstream” Art Exhibit
When: Oct. 18-Nov. 6
gallery hours 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
Where: The Phipps Center for The Arts
109 Locust Street
Hudson, Wis.
Cost: Free

At ArtReach St. Croix…
What: “Upstream” Art Exhibit with VFC member work displayed
When: Nov. 6-16, closing reception Nov. 15 with refreshments and hors d’oeuvres gallery hours Weds. through Fri. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. 12-4 p.m.
Where: ArtReach St. Croix
224 N 4th Street
Stillwater, MN
Cost: Free

At the Bloomington Theatre
What: “Upstream” Art exhibit
When: Jan. 20 to Feb. 28, 2014 Panel discussion Feb. 11 6:30 p.m.
Where: Bloomington Theatre and Art Center
1800 W. Old Shakopee Road
Bloomington, MN

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]