Unaffected Vision: Free to see beautiful, opens Friday at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum

Video by Sarah Williamson | gargoyle@flagler.edu

This First Friday Art Walk, eight students from The Arc of St. Johns will share a piece of their lives through photography. The show, Unaffected Vision: Free to see beautiful, is a display of photographs taken by physically and intellectually disabled students.

For many, it was the first time picking up a camera.

The program began in the summer of 2011 when Flagler College alum George Gallardo partnered with the Arc of St. Johns to teach a group—who already displayed artistic interest—how to capture their world on film. A grant from The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida supplied each student with his or her own camera. After Gallardo’s graduation, senior Sarah Williamson continued the program, teaching and shooting hundreds of images in the last two years. They have had photo excursions all over St. Augustine including the Flagler College campus, Fort Mose, Fort Matanzas, St. Augustine Beach, The Alligator Farm and The Lightner Museum.

In 2012, one of the artists, Thomas Carey, was awarded with an individual artist grant from the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida in order to purchase a professional camera with lenses and to continue his love of photography.

Last spring Sylvi Herrick, a member of the Board of Trustees of The Arc of St. Johns, was told about the project and was blown away by the collaboration and the students’ art.

“The images themselves were very solid,” said Herrick, recalling the first time she saw the student’s work. “And it was easy to let them be as they are.”

Herrick, with years of experience in curating shows, secured an opening at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum for the First Friday in December, knowing that this is one of the busiest art walks of the year.

The journey has involved many in the community. Mary Williamson, The Arc’s director of Adult Education and Training, wrote the grant. Tom Brock, owner of Imagine Printing, located on King Street, printed and framed each piece. Julie Dickover, director of the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, worked alongside Herrick. This is the first time that Flagler College and The Arc of St. Johns have collaborated.

The importance of this show, as stated in its name, is to recognize the artists’ ability to seek beauty, in a way that is unaltered and flawless. Their art is without an agenda, it simply is.

“This is a celebration and can really change how people see disability because art is what connect us all,” said Herrick.

Join the artists at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum on campus, December 6 and 7, opening Friday from 5-9pm.

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