Creative Expression Through Creative Abundance

In July 2016, Abilities Services, Inc. hosted a Creative Abundance arts programming workshop at our Clinton County day services location in Frankfort. The Creative Abundance program assists organizations that support people with intellectual disabilities with transforming their services to be more inclusive and community-centered.

The program, which catered to each of our Frankfort consumers on an individual basis, transformed the day services space and our consumers at that location. Consumers blossomed during the two-week program and have continued to express themselves and find fulfillment through art projects. Through the program, ASI has also connected with the local community through art displays, open houses, and more. “To say that changing our program over to Creative Abundance has been life changing sounds cheesy – but it’s true!” ASI’s Executive Director Michelle Smith is a strong advocate for the Creative Abundance program following its success in Frankfort.

“The excitement and enthusiasm that they brought to the program has transformed the way our consumers feel about their day program.  Watching the interaction, creativity, and talents grow on a daily basis is amazing.  People who have been known in the past to be a wall flower are now out in the community spreading the message about the new and exciting things that we are working on.”

The program empowered and inspired our consumers to express themselves and find pride in their work through art projects. Each and every one of the Frankfort consumers was involved in the program at their personal level of comfort. Our consumers began bringing new creations to life and the work they have produced in only a few short months is, in a word, stunning. They are happier, healthier, and more at home while participating in our day services than ever before.

The encouragement of creative expression for mental and developmental disabilities is unconventional, but it is proving to be effective and is beginning to be viewed as a best practice by care organizations throughout the country. Art offers creators an outlet, and opportunity to explore, and the chance to create something that can be appreciated and enjoyed by people they will never meet. “Without fear of judgment or interference of ego, [these] artists can simply explore the way lines emerge when they put pen to paper, and marvel at the singular beauty of each and every mark,” says art writer Priscilla Frank.

To help raise funds for the continuation of the arts programming at Frankfort, ASI will be hosting its first ever fundraiser on November 3rd. The event, which will take place at 7:00 p.m. at 110 S. Prairie Avenue in Frankfort, will be an art auction where attendees can purchase original works of art created by ASI’s Frankfort consumers. Of proceeds collected from the sale of each piece, 40% will go to the artist, 40% will support future ASI programming, and 20% will go towards the purchase of additional art supplies.

ASI has also partnered with the Journal Review print shop to print note card stationary featuring the work of some of our artists. These note cards, pictured below, are available for sale and can be purchased by contacting ASI at (765) 362-4020.

Based on the demonstrated success of the program in Frankfort, ASI is currently working to bring the Creative Abundance Group to Crawfordsville, where they will facilitate the arts programming and build artworks with our Montgomery County consumers and staff for a ten-day workshop. An ASI employed artist-in-residence will continue to offer arts programming following the conclusion of the workshop.  The success of the Creative Abundance has been transformative to the way we care for our consumers, and it is something that we intend to carry into the future for years to come.