James was inspired to paint the first time he saw the work of Pablo Picasso. “Painting makes me happy,” he said. “I close my eyes and visualize myself on a beach, painting.”
Fellow artist Janet finds that her inspiration “…comes from life, experience and all the things I imagine in my mind,” she said. “People don’t see my disability in my paintings.”
James and Janet are just two of more than 15 artists who participate in Aspire Art360, an innovative social enterprise promoting greater awareness, community and opportunity for artists with disabilities through the recognition and sale of their artwork. Artists whose work is sold share in the proceeds, earning an income as well as the joy that comes from producing unique pieces of art.
“Art360 has an interesting start”, said Aspire’s Chief Mission Officer Dina Donohue-Chase, whose office displays created by the program’s artists. This art had gone largely unnoticed until representatives of Enterprise Fleet Management visited Dina at her office. “They were so impressed with the piece, they asked if we could do artwork for them,” said Dina.
Artists took on their first challenge eagerly, creating the series of paintings that now hang in Enterprise Car Rental’s corporate headquarters.
That was just the start. From that point on, artists began working on new pieces for purchase under the guidance of Patricia Joslun, Manager and Lead Instructor of Aspire Art360.
Some artists work together in small groups while others prefer to paint on their own. Completed pieces can be purchased through the Aspire Art360 online gallery.
Commissioned works are uniquely tailored to the organization or person purchasing them. For example, to create the Enterprise pieces, artists rolled a car tire across the canvases to reflect the company’s business. On other pieces, artists have dragged string or rolled marble over wet paint on the canvas, adding texture and dimension.
“We purchased art that was commissioned for us”, said client Maggie Morales of the Lake County Community Foundation, “and our guests absolutely love them. When you’re purchasing art from Aspire, you’re purchasing artwork that makes an impact.”
The artwork from Aspire Art360 does what art does best ― triggers emotions and broadens perspectives. The goal for this program is to have art proudly and prominently displayed in businesses. So people can appreciate the masterful work of artists with disabilities and provide a powerful message of inclusion in communities.
The full gallery of art is currently on display at Aspire’s offices in Zion, Illinois. To see the online gallery of the art and learn more about our program, please go to art360gallery.org or contact Herb Washington, Aspire’s Chief Innovation Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.