pARTners Art Mentoring Program
The pARTners Art Mentoring Program pairs established community-based artists with artists with developmental disabilities one-on-one in a studio setting. The goal of the pARTners program is to provide artists with developmental disabilities access to mentoring by professional artists to enhance their skills and reduce isolation.
This program serves artists with developmental disabilities in the Rochester region, who often lack access to non-therapeutic arts programs. As a result, they are isolated from the wider artistic community. The pARTners program reduces that sense of isolation. For professional artists in the community, this program is an opportunity to share knowledge and gain understanding of artists with developmental disabilities and their capabilities. pARTners was not, and is not, art therapy; there are already excellent art therapy programs at various Heritage Christian Services sites. Rather, we want it to be more of a mentoring situation and placed an emphasis on developing relationships as well as producing art.
The pARTners program has had three sessions so far. The first one began in April 2008 and had five mentors working with five artists with disabilities. The program expanded slightly in its second and third years (2009 and 2010). We had six mentors working with six artists with disabilities each of those years. The art partners worked together in the art studio at the Pieters Family Life Center for weekly 90 minute sessions over six weeks, although sessions were lengthened or shortened, depending on the artist’s needs. The art partners explored various mediums, including photography, oil, water colors, and mixed media.
The culmination of each session is a group exhibit at the Café Gallery in the Pieters Family Life Center. In 2009, we had our first community exhibit at Starbucks on Monroe and Oxford Avenue. In 2010, we exhibited at the Rochester Public Library in March and at the Miner Library at the University of Rochester Medical School in October and the Lavery Library at St. John Fisher College in November.
The pARTners Art Mentoring Program has been generously supported by the Nelson B. Delavan Foundation for its first two years and by the Rochester Area Community Foundation in 2010.