West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

New Culture Center exhibit to showcase works by artists with disabilities


The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) will open a new exhibit on Wednesday, Nov. 16, featuring works by the Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED) Fine and Creative Arts program at West Virginia University. A reception to celebrate the show will be held at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston from 3 – 5 p.m., with refreshments, and music by Viola Smith. The exhibit will remain on display through Jan. 16, 2012, in the South Wing off the Great Hall.

Opening remarks will be made by Helen Panzironi, fine arts and community training program manager for the CED.

Since the CED’s Fine and Creative Arts program was established in July 2004, hundreds of participants, educators, community members and caregivers have received support that enhances the community inclusion, socialization, recreation and employment opportunities of people with developmental and other disabilities through improved access to and participation in the creative and fine arts.

“The best thing about art is that it focuses on what you can do and not on what you can’t do,” Panzironi said. “Being told you can be an artist tells a person with a disability that she or he is a worthwhile, contributing member of society.”

“I often use the phrase ‘reintegrating people into the arts’ because people with disabilities have created art for generations,” she said, citing artists such as Beethoven, who was deaf; Hector Berlioz, who had epilepsy; and Alicia Alonso, a blind woman who opened Cuba’s first ballet company.

The exhibit consists of 32 pieces of two- and three-dimensional art, sculptures and photography. It is a collaborative venture between the CED Fine and Creative Arts program at WVU and the WVDCH.

Smith, of Morgantown, is a graduate of the Romney School for the Blind. She attended West Virginia Career College and was inducted into the International Business College Hall of Fame. She took additional classes at Fairmont State Teachers College in voice, piano and violin. Smith has played in many venues across the state including hotels and churches. She will be performing Thanksgiving and Christmas music on piano during the reception.

For more information, contact Charles Morris, director of museums for the Division, at (304) 558-0220. For additional information about the CED and the artists with work on exhibition, contact Panzironi at (304) 293-4692, ext. 1154.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.



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