John watched his instructor—his “tracker”—move her hand slowly across the canvas before calling out “there!” She dabbed a yellow circle with the color and brush John had selected earlier. The tracker moved further across the canvas. “There,” John called again. And then again.
This was John’s first painting using the A.R.T. method–Artistic Realization Technologies. Later in the session he pointed and directed a laser dot across the painting. The tracker followed his laser with a paint brush—soaked in orange which she mixed at John’s request—chasing the dot as he sped up. While John guided the laser with his wrist, some artists need to strap it to their head.
“This method was initially designed for people who could not hold a tool,” said Pat Hogan, who teaches the weekly class as part of Berkshire County Arc’s Nu-Opps program.
“Some of our individuals never had an opportunity to explore art,” said Deb Caiola, who oversees Nu-Opps and the Center for Development, which share a facility. “Many of these paintings are exhibited in area museums and galleries. There is nothing like watching the painters’ faces when they first see their painting hung on a gallery wall, matted and framed.” Often, Deb said, the work sells for several hundred dollars.
“They make all the decisions” said Pat Hogan, a faculty member of the Community Access to the Arts, who teaches other art classes at BCArc’s Lee facility. “I just act as an extension of their arms. Sometimes I wish they would use a different color, or brush, or entire concept, but my job is to let them make the decisions and create their own art.”
Most recently the BCArc artists exhibited their work at the Good Purpose Gallery in Lee, Mass. The event was presented by CATA, which values community engagement along with the development of art skills for people with disabilities.
The exhibit runs until April 16.