A New SLO Exhibition Explores the Work of Disabled Artists

Over 40 artworks will be featured.

Museums have long been at the forefront of breaking down barriers. One important effort has been the facilitating and enhancing the relationship between disabled artists and their community. The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA) is doing exactly that effort with their exhibition Home Sweet Home, an exhibition on view October 19 through December 9, 2018—engaging disabled artists, giving their artwork a bigger stage, and reaching a wider audience.

Last year SLOMA posted a statewide call for adults with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities to submit artwork in any artistic media on the theme of “home.” Responses came in from all over California; individuals, schools, and nonprofit organizations from Fort Bragg to Glendale that were either disabled in some way or were involved in the educating or caring for adults with disabilities. Over 40 artworks have been selected for this exhibition.

SLOMA Curator, Ruta Saliklis said, “SLOMA creates these opportunities because seeing the colorful ways people with disabilities process life pushes us to consider how others see the world. These compelling moments exercise our empathy and imagination while helping adults with disabilities explore art making on their own terms, by their own standards, with their own abilities. When they create a work of art and say, ‘This is beautiful to me,’ it opens many doors in their lives. It also opens a door to the rest of the world, who can say, ‘This is beautiful to us, too.’”

Local artist Noah Erenberg will be a featured artist at SLOMA during Home Sweet Home. Noah is on the autism spectrum; because of this he has a unique way of viewing and interacting with the world. One of the most important parts of Noah’s life is having the freedom to express himself visually. His favorite people are other artists and musicians. Noah is proud to share his art and it makes him happy to know other people enjoy it. He is looking forward to having his artwork shown in SLOMA’s premier gallery—hoping that a wider audience recognizes his love of art. Noah is an active artist member of SLOMA, with his artwork currently in the Museum portfolio bins as well as participating in Art About Town, a partnership for SLOMA artists and SLOMA business members to exhibit artwork in countywide business offices year-round.

Noah says, “My favorite colors are red, blue, and pink. I like to paint abstract paintings because I like bright colors and crazy shapes. Abstract painting reminds me of hip-hop music. Abstract means from my head.” A self-taught artist, Noah works in an abstract expressionist style and his artwork has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. Having created artwork for over 25 years, Noah is inspired by California’s Central Coast, media images, and rock and roll. It usually takes him about one week to complete one of his drawings or paintings. “I feel peaceful and free when painting,” Noah continues, “Art means everything to me.” Noah has lived all over Southern California, including Topanga Canyon and Isla Vista; he currently lives in San Luis Obispo.

“Breaking down barriers is a welcome challenge and a major component of SLOMA’s mission to provide and promote diverse visual arts experiences for people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibition, education, creation, and collaborations,” remarks Karen Kile, SLOMA’s executive director. “There have been many times when SLOMA has been able to provide an artistic experience to those with disabilities. Path Point, Transitions, The Autism Spectrum of SLO County, Sierra Vista’s Strokes for Strokes, and the unsung heroes that bring disabled adults to enjoy the Museum’s artwork during weekend hours—they all know the benefits of having art in someone’s life.”

“Such efforts by SLOMA, and many other museums, are likely to increase. The American Community Survey (ACS) estimates the overall rate of people with disabilities in the US population in 2015 was 12.6%. It’s obvious that this percentage is likely to increase because of the greater longevity of our population and better awareness of some disabilities. For years, museum designers have used a great deal of imagination to make their exhibitions accessible to all, much more than is required by law,” Kile added. “We can hardly wait for our new facility to be built so SLOMA will have the modern equipment and newest technology to do many more remarkable things for people of all ages and backgrounds,” she said.

For more on this exhibition, visit sloma.org.

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