Recently, I was introduced to a video called “Where Art Changes Lives,” which gave a glimpse into a visual arts non-profit center in San Francisco, Creativity Explored. This organization “is a place where developmental disabled artists come to strengthen their sense of self, explore their potential in the world and get the tools to establish themselves as working artists.” In this video we are introduced to Steven Liu, an artist who has flourished through Creativity Explored.
Steven has autism, but that shouldn’t be his only identifying characteristic. He is a young man full of vibrant energy, excitement, and creativity with a passion for art. With the help of the instructors at Creativity Explored, Steven is given the opportunity to practice and enhance his artistic skills and show his lively spirit that otherwise might be locked away. The instructors hope that people will not see him as an artist with autism, but as an amazing Bay Area artist that has a lot to offer the art world.
“Where Art Changes Lives” reminded me of a short documentary, “Inocente,” which won an Oscar in its category in 2013. “INOCENTE is an intensely personal and vibrant coming-of-age documentary about a young artist’s fierce determination to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings.” At the time, Inocente is a 15-year old homeless, undocumented immigrant. Yet this never stops her from achieving her dream of becoming an artist, interpreting her dismal world into one filled with color and imagination.
Both of these stories are truly amazing and inspirational. They give an identifiable face to these broad stereotypes, a face that we cannot ignore, a face that is helping to break down these barriers. These videos show the beautiful energy that emanates from artists like Steven and Inocente when given the opportunity to express themselves without boundaries or being imprisoned or institutionalized. Steven and Inocente have a special talent where they can take the world around them and transfer that into their own artwork.
These videos show the need for more creative spaces that can provide opportunities for those with disabilities. Both Steven and Inocente, despite their hardships, make the world a brighter place and find happiness and beauty even in the darkest of times.