The Issue: Overextended Art Supplies
Last year, Focus: Art received a grant through the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to purchase accessible sewing machines for textile projects in its art classes for adults who experience developmental disabilities. However, enrollment has recently increased, and it no longer has enough sewing machines for the artists. On average, about four students work in each class. They currently need to share three accessible machines between them, meaning that someone is always sitting out. Focus: Art needs another sewing machine so that everyone in class can work at the same time. An additional machine would also help keep students sewing while the older machines are undergoing tune-ups.
The Campaign: Funding a Sewing Machine for Art Classes
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Focus: Art to fund art classes for adults who experience developmental disabilities. With the first $600 raised, Focus: Art can buy a new sewing machine. The Janome computerized sewing machine has essential features—including an electronic control panel and customizable speed—that help people with disabilities learn to use it at their own pace. The budding artists use the sewing machines to make potholders, tote bags, and coasters, which they sell for a small profit. Beyond $600, additional donations will go toward scholarships for student artists.
Faith Kelly believes that “there is an artist waiting to get out in everyone,” so she founded Focus: Art to give people the tools to find that latent artist. Like its parent organization, Focus, Inc., Focus: Art's goal is to serve people with developmental disabilities. But it also exposes adults to the arts in an environment where everyone can get along, even though they may “think differently or perceive the world differently.”
Focus: Art currently runs four art classes a week. During the first half of each 2.5-hour session, budding artists work on art projects in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, and sewing. Then, after a tea break, they pull out guitars, homemade maracas, and drums to make music together.
These art projects and jam sessions both inspire community and demonstrate new, creative ways to connect with the world. To celebrate Earth Day, for example, Focus: Art students designed and constructed an applique quilt. During a month of classes, artists designed their squares on paper and recreated them in fabric. Each square contains landscape art such as shining suns and leafy trees. Recently, they have worked with mixed media, gathering trash, twigs, pebbles, and buttons to build textural collages on canvas. Over time, the artists’ work begs to be shown—and purchased—so Focus: Art hosts art shows four times a year to showcase their painting, photography, and sewing projects.
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