By Damien Monaco
For the third year in a row, the Patchogue-Medford Library (PML) is showcasing artwork created by individuals from Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE). This year’s exhibit, entitled Landscape Constructions, is on display through May 2, 2016, in honor of National Autism Awareness Month.
On April 6, 2016, the Library held an artists’ reception, where various members of the community came out to view the inspirational art that was created by individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. The mixed media pieces, which were created in FREE’s Fine Art and Art Therapy programs, depict natural and manmade landscapes.
This exhibit, which is a preview of the main showing to be held at LENZ Winery throughout the summer, gave people a taste of what is to come. During the reception, Danielle Paisley, Assistant Director of the PML, kicked off the event by welcoming everyone and spoke briefly about the exhibit. She also introduced Legislator Robert Calarco, who presented a proclamation that was accepted by Jessica Gallone, Senior Program Director of Day Services Supports and Development at FREE, and by Ed Regensburg, LCAT, Director of Art Therapy at FREE, on behalf of the FREE organization.
Gallone went on to thank the Library for hosting this amazing exhibit and expressed her appreciation to Calarco for taking time out of his busy schedule to attend the event. Gallone also discussed the importance of the collaboration between the Library and FREE. After her remarks, she then introduced Regensburg to the podium, who talked more in depth about the Landscape Constructions exhibit and the benefits of art therapy. “It is an honor to work with the spirit and the future of our humanity,” commented Regensburg.
At the conclusion of the formal part of the reception, Helen, an individual from FREE, presented an award to the Library as a gesture of FREE’s gratitude for hosting the exhibit. The framed art was created by Wendy, another individual from FREE. After, everyone admired and discussed the art while enjoying snacks, generously donated by Terry’s Café.
About the Collection
FREE, a leader in the field of human services dedicated to helping individuals of all abilities realize their full potential, believes that art therapy provides a powerful means for healing and communication for anyone, but especially for people who find it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings through spoken words alone.
Landscape Constructions was FREE’s first professionally juried competition. More than 150 pieces, created by over 60 individuals, were made during a six-month period for this year’s collection. There were 106 qualifying pieces put before an esteemed panel of judges from the New York art and business community, with a total of 53 pieces selected by the judges to be included in the exhibit.
The collection consists of two tiers of excellence, with tier one containing the first through third place winners, seven pieces awarded with honorable mention, and the next best 15 pieces; tier two contains the remaining 28 works.
The artists represented in this exhibit are the finalists whose quality of work rose high enough to have garnered entrance into this prestigious collection. Their courage and strength led them down the challenging path of self-revelation and allowed them to talk to us through the hidden language of images, colors and symbols.
While the artwork is beautiful to look at, it is important to recognize the incredible depth of emotional release that took place over months of work with all of FREE’s dedicated staff. It was their patience and commitment to stay the course and believe that these artists could reach high to not only see their healing image, but also commit it to a permanent form for all to share in their vision.
Over the years much has been written about the healing power of art as therapy and the creative process of spiritual self-expression, especially for individuals who may find it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings through spoken words alone. The images on view are a testament to this healing power, as these artists have embraced feelings of trust, hope and resolution, offering them an alternative to conflict and fear, which unfortunately characterizes much of the consciousness present in our world today.
All are encouraged to view the works and perhaps purchase a piece. The proceeds of sales go toward supporting the artists and the programs.
Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE), founded in 1977 and headquartered in Old Bethpage, benefits and proudly supports more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury. It is the mission of FREE to help individuals of all abilities realize their full potential. FREE provides a diverse array of supports and services including: housing; recovery services; transition to work; employment; day, community and family services; respite; crisis services; education and after-school support; primary and specialty health care; and advocacy. For more information, visit FamilyRes.org. To schedule an exhibition, call 516-870-1600, ext. 1818.
About the PML
The mission of the Patchogue-Medford Library (PML) is to provide resources and opportunities to empower, educate and entertain the community, and is committed to providing quality library service. PML is a School District Public Library serving the residents of the Patchogue-Medford School District. The District encompasses the Incorporated Village of Patchogue and the hamlets of North Patchogue, Medford and a portion of East Patchogue. For further details, visit PMLib.org.