Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Getting horizontal with UMAR

The only horizontal flower vase I've ever seen is now sitting on my desk. It's full of dried blooms and cattails and rests on a hollowed piece of driftwood, and it's the best use I've made of $20 this month.

The artist didn't think outside the box, because he doesn't even know there might be a box. He and his colleagues at UMAR, a local organization that supports folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities, unveiled their work at the annual UMAR fund-raising luncheon today at Providence United Methodist Church.

This blog entry isn't a pitch for UMAR, admirable though I think it is. (You can find out more at www.umarinfo.com.) It's a reminder that virtually any human being can make art with the proper stimulation, training and opportunities.

Sale tables at the lunch were crammed with necklaces and earrings, paintings and photographs, recycled and redecorated boxes meant to hold keepsakes, rustic bowls made of cement. UMAR folks like bold colors and striking arrangements, and the art leapt out at you. The makers, many of whom stood shyly by, did not. Like many visual artists and designers, they're not especially verbal.

UMAR defines art less traditionally than the rest of us do, to include gardening and culinary work. Sometimes its artists cross boundaries: On entering the lunch, I got a hug (almost everybody's a hugger here) and a bookmark with a hole cut in it for a piece of fresh rosemary. Not utilitarian, but it makes my desk smell better than my usual onion bagels.

Some of these folks live wholly independently, while some need group homes. Some have jobs; some don't. But all of them have some kind of creative spirit, and seeing those spirits liberated at this event always leaves me with a lighter pocketbook and a lighter heart.


Ruth Singer-Strunck said...

It was my joy to sell you that vase, and to see you at the luncheon. I am most fortunate to teach, and in turb learn from the artists at UMAR Arts Center.
Ruth Singer-Strunck

Anonymous said...

I treasure my airplanes and sky flower pot. It is the focal point of my kitchen. It was the joint creation of 2 UMAR participants, who will remain in my heart, forever.

Jim said...

As a photography instructor at UMAR Arts Center in Lincolnton, I am continually amazed by the depth of creativity of the participants and am humbled daily by what I learn from them.