This March, Homer’s first Disability Art Show will take place at Homer Council on the Arts. It’s a collaboration between the arts council and the Independent Living Center. The show will feature work by artists whose lives have been touched by disability in some way.
The show is a fundraiser, in part, for the Independent Living Center’s TRAILS (Total Recreation and Independent Living Services) program. Created in Homer in 2005, the TRAILS program has four main components: Recreation and Leisure Programs, Public Awareness and Special Events, Technical Assistance & Education and Adaptive Equipment. They provide inclusive recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities and without. They teach independent living skills and promote self-confidence through all kinds of activities: fishing, rafting, cooking, gardening, skiing.
Devony Lehner has been with the TRAILS program since 2017.
“I began thinking about how many folks that we work with have these hidden talents that we’ve never seen out there in the public," said Lehner. "You can have a disability and that may affect your art in lots of ways you can address that directly or not. Simply because you have a disability and you are doing art that is appropriate for the show but even if you don’t have a disability or you want to respond to it in some way.”
Michael Gavillot is the local TRAILS coordinator. He says many of the recreational services they provide are free or low cost. He says the biggest barriers they encounter to access are limitations in transportation and lack of disposable income. There are expenses to meet and money from the Disability Art Show will help offset them.
“Going up to Cooper Landing to go horseback riding or going up to Challenge Alaska to go skiing…do cost a lot of money and people save for them. We try to offer financial assistance to people who can’t afford," said Gavillot.
Anybody of any age with any disability is eligible for the Independent Living Center’s services. During the first six months of 2019, they provided services to nearly 600 people. In addition to the TRAILS program, they offer an Aging and Disability Resource Center, a Developmental Disability Resource Connection, a Low Vision program and the Supported Transportation program.
Joyanna Geisler is Director of Homer’s Independent Living Center - an organization founded in 1972 by and for people with disabilities. Homer’s Independent Living Center has been at work in Homer since 1991. Their mission is to ensure that their clients have a full understanding of their rights, responsibilities, and options and have the freedom to make their own choices.
"Disability is a natural part of the human condition. So in our independent living world, disability is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s nothing to be afraid of, and if we live long enough, most of us will experience a disability in our lives," said Geisler.
There are a variety of activities happening throughout the month, promoting interactions between individuals with disabilities and those not experiencing disabilities, classes like rock painting, and decorating wheelchairs.
You can find information about scheduled activities, the TRAILS program and the upcoming Disability Art Show, including the submission form, on the HCOA website, www.homerart.org.
Submissions are due by March 2. The exhibit will open with a reception on Friday, March 6 from 5-7pm at Homer Council on the Arts at 355 W. Pioneer Avenue.