Arts Unbound debuted “Symmetry” on September 16 as a testament to the power art has to save lives. Arts Unbound is located at 542/544 Freeman Street in Orange, in the heart of the Valley Arts District.
“Living with the challenges associated with disability often assists the artist in the creative process, making the artwork that much more compelling and vibrant,” director Gail Levinson says of the work. Walking through the exhibit, these words reverberated through the space and bounced off the paintings, pictures and sculptures that adorned the walls.
One of the featured artists, Amy Charmatz, paints folky pictures that look like they were torn out of a children’s storybook. A lone girl with a nose ring, surrounded by cats, stares back at you with words above her head that capture the emotion of the piece. “Art Saves Lives” is Charmatz’s motto, and in this exhibit the emotions of dealing with physical or mental disability are prominently on display. The colors jump out and grab you, and the thick lines simultaneously create depth and peace on the wall.
The gallery partnered with VSA: The State Organization on Arts and Disability, and one of their artists Kasey Tararuj showed work that echoed the sentiment of the show. A ghastly girl reminiscent of a character in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is the main subject of the five pieces. In one piece, the girl’s spinal cord is exposed and twisted, perhaps as a reflection of what the artist feels about herself as she is paraplegic. The work is haunting, dark and full of emotion and truly shows the power art has to heal a human soul.
Another VSA artist, Gabriella Gonzalez painted large canvases with a contrast of neon colors and dark greys and black. The juxtaposition of the bright colors with the deep tones reminds the viewer that there are always two sides of a person. The colors fight for the eye’s attention, much in the way two sides of a person can be at war with each other.
It is clear from the collection that art really does save lives, as the works portray a range of emotions that would otherwise be pent up inside.
Although the focus of the gallery is on artists with disabilities, Arts Unbound realizes that everyone can benefit from making art. This fall they will be hosting classes, open to all, to foster a relationship between individuals and artistic expression.
Artwork will be exhibited from September 16 to October 14. Free gallery tours are available on the first and third Tuesday of every month at the Arts Unbound gallery from 1-2pm. Call 973-675-2787 to make reservations.
To find out more information on the classes check out www.artsunbound.org/classes. In addition, the gallery will be hosting a Holiday store in Maplewood Village from late October through the holiday season with gift sized wares from the gallery.