Last week, Global Neighbors in collaboration with Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services held an art show in Shane Lounge. The show, which ran from March 25 to April 1, showcased artwork from various media created by both children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities that are currently students at CADES. This was the fifth anniversary of the show at the college, which has previously been held at both Kitao Gallery and in Shane in different years.
The theme for the show this year was a celebration of CADES’ 65-year anniversary, and the pieces exhibited in Shane were loosely unified around that central idea. According to their website, CADES was founded in 1951 as a small group of dedicated parents envisioned a place where their children with cerebral palsy could learn and be cared for in ways that would respect their limitations but also challenge their abilities. Since then, it has evolved to become a vibrant, important resource in southeastern Pennsylvania for school districts, human services agencies, and the families of those with disabilities. They now offer a continuum of high quality supportive services for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Art classes are a regular part of the curriculum for school-aged students, and a recreational class offered to their adult clients. CADES art teacher Paul Zecher teaches both the adult and children’s art classes, and was the primary curator for this year’s art show at the college.
“This year… [it was] all about the celebration [of the anniversary]. We did have some posters with cakes around, but the artwork, I just tried to really have a wide range of different types of art,” Zecher said, referring to the brightly colored posters of multilayer cakes, accented with gel paint swirls and embellishments and emblazoned with “65th CADES” that were hanging around the room.
Shane was filled with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, with an impressive variety of media throughout the exhibit. Clay sculptures and paper-mache pieces sat alongside a number of poster-style works. Some of them sported feathers, popsicle sticks, and string, making the pieces come to life and jump off the paper. A series of pieces on one wall featured art with the handprints of CADES students as the cornerstone; next to each piece was a photo of the artist, encouraging viewers to imagine the story behind each individual piece.
Zecher noted that working with CADES students means keeping in mind factors that other art teachers may not need to pay attention to. When choosing which materials to work with, Zecher tries his best to use things that are safe and non-toxic and to use a variety of different textures. This stems from the fact that not all of his students use art for its visual effects.
“… some of my students are very tactile. [For them], it’s about touching, and not necessarily looking at the [art]. Some of my students are blind,” he said.
The show would not be possible without collaboration with the student group Global Neighbors. a student-run service organization focused on reducing discrimination and promoting the dignity of peoples marginalized for their physical or medical conditions through volunteer work, outreach, and education. Members volunteer at CADES once a week and also work with CADES staff to plan Discovering Abilities Week, a week-long event celebrating the unique abilities of students at CADES as well as those around the United States regardless of physical or medical conditions. The art exhibition was the culminating event of this year’s Discovering Abilities Week.
Zecher praised Global Neighbors’ work with CADES as an example of the type of work that he would like to see more of at Swarthmore.
“ … one of my biggest interests is the connection between Swarthmore College and the institutions in this town, and the more they can collaborate, to me, the better. Having the students [at CADES] is fantastic, because they get bonded to the students at my school,” Zecher said.
Global Neighbors and Zecher called this week’s Discovering Abilities Week a success, and had exciting plans for other ways to work with CADES in the near future. Chris Chan ’17 said that Global Neighbours recently unveiled plans to give families of students or adults with special needs tours of the Scott Arboretum, but that program is still in its early stages. Regardless of any additional programming, members of Global Neighbors seemed confident the art would be happening again next year, and that their work with CADES would continue because of the rewards it brings.
“They’re so fun to work with… it’s my own time to do art and we get to collaborate,” said Alice Liu ’18.