Patterns: visible in art and audible in drums

On Saturday, June 21, 2014, Canada celebrated National Aboriginal Day. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection acknowledged Aboriginal heritage by incorporating a special activity in Drumming Circle, a seasonal ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Program. Led by members of the Peel Aboriginal Network, participants learned about Aboriginal culture, listened to ancestral storytelling and followed the beat with their own drums.

The drummers and participants engaged in a smudging ceremony, a method of burning sage leaves to cleanse the spirit and connect to the earth. The driving pulse of the drums and shakers orchestrated the performance, while ears and eyes were attentive to the cultural customs before them. The traditional songs played below tall pine trees echoed through the McMichael grounds and added a positive element to the day.

ArtVenture Accessible Family Art Programs are part of McMichael Accessible Programs. This program is designed for youth aged seven and up living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other special needs. Held on a quarterly basis, caregivers, parents and siblings are invited to join in the fun process of tactile art-making activities, dramatic play and social interaction.

To learn more about accessible programs at the McMichael, visit:
http://www.mcmichael.com/programs/accessibleprograms.cfm

Celebrating LIFE with art at the McMichael

Since November 4, 2013, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection has been the Monday stomping ground for five talented youth. Members of Kerry’s Place Autism Services completed a six week partnership program with the organization. The LIFE  (Learning Independence Through Facilitated Education) Academy Program is a course offered to youth aged 18 and up, which is a socially interactive experience that develops life skills for post secondary education, independent living and employment. Drawing from the surrounding landscape and history, each participant completed a portfolio of vibrant works worthy of exhibition.

The program was taught by McMichael educator Christina Kerr, and Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard, an instructor from Kerry’s Place and a professionally trained artist currently pursuing a Fine Arts Degree at York University. It was a great opportunity to merge teaching methods in a free-flowing environment against the stunning winter backdrop of the Humber River Trail.

Each week, the students intently worked on rough sketches and paintings. They also visited the gallery to experience the current exhibition You Are Here: Kim Dorland and the Return to Painting. Students had the opportunity to hear from the Toronto-based artist during a gallery talk, where they learned about his painting techniques and the influence of Tom Thomson,  members of the Group of Seven, and other Canadian artists on his own work.

On Monday, December 9, the participants of LIFE Academy at the McMichael celebrated their final day by completing their portfolio pieces, inserting them into customized canvas bags. The group listened to Electro-Jazz, The Tragically Hip and St. Germain compilations during each brushstroke and pencil sketch. Kerr and Elkabas-Besnard awarded each participant their own certificate of completion. Before heading out into the brisk winter weather, the artists made a toast with piping hot chocolate and cookies.

It was a sweet ending to an awesome program that created new friendships and inspired innovative techniques. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see these pieces on our walls someday, parallel to Thomson and the greats.

The LIFE Academy gather for a group photo in fron of the McMichael sign on December 9, 2013. From left to right: Stephanie Lee, Christina Kerr, Rebecca Ribchester, Daniel Ciccarelli, Tommy Deonauth, Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard and Scott Lee.

The LIFE Academy gather for a group photo in front of the McMichael sign on December 9, 2013. From left to right: Stephanie Lee, Christina Kerr, Rebecca Ribchester, Daniel Ciccarelli, Tommy Deonauth, Emmanuel Elkabas-Besnard and Scott Lee.

Link

Specialized Santa visits for children with autism

Our partner organization, Kerry’s Place Autism Services will be at five Oxford Property malls in the Greater Toronto Area to provide support this holiday season. Children with autism will have the chance to visit Santa Claus in a tranquil setting from 9 to 11 a.m. at the following locations:

  • Square One, Missisauga
  • Scarborough Town Centre
  • Hillcrest Mall, Richmond Hill
  • Upper Canada Mall, Newmarket
  • Yorkdale, Toronto

Check out the article published yesterday in the Toronto Star for details.
A truly joyful way to celebrate accessibility and incluson this season!