ArtYard represents people with disabilities with collaborative exhibit RUGLAND

2 minute read
'RUGLAND' celebrates textile art through the spring. (Art by Mary T. Bevlock, provided by ArtYard)
'RUGLAND' celebrates textile art through the spring. (Art by Mary T. Bevlock, provided by ArtYard)

Frenchtown NJ’s ArtYard presents RUGLAND, celebrating the beauty and cultural significance of textile work with a collaborative exhibit created by artists from Wynnewood’s Center for Creative Works (CCW). Opening Saturday, January 18, the show follows a workshop hosted late last summer by designer and textile artist Tim Eads and features the punch-tufted creations of eight textile artists including Mary T. Bevlock, Natasha Plaza, and Judy Barnett.

Packing a punch

In 2019, during an exhibit at ArtYard that featured artists from across the country, Barnett created a drawing that the other artists then collaborated on to create a tapestry using punch tufting, a technique valued by progressive art studios (those that welcome artists with intellectual disabilities, often also providing opportunities for wider educational and professional engagement) for the artistic freedom it allows as well as the collaboration it fosters. Both the drawing and the resulting taoestry will be displayed as part of RUGLAND’s dynamic display.

Blanket statements

The Center for Creative Works is a place where people with intellectual disabilities can hone their skills while also engaging with employment opportunities and community outreach. CCW artists can develop their craft across a variety of media while discovering new work opportunities and fostering their own community within the studio.Disability culture is all too often framed by an abled lens in contemporary culture.

In families, in the workplace, and in the community at large, the story of disability is often still told from the point of view of the able-bodied and neurotypical. Even as society becomes more inclusive in other various intersections of identity, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation, disability can still be an afterthought, if it’s included at all. In order for spaces to be truly inclusive, the CCW model goes, it's essential to give disabled people opportunities to contribute and create, not simply create accommodations for them to be in the audience.

Stories, values, and culture are threaded in the work on display at 'RUGLAND.' (Art by Natasha Plaza, provided by ArtYard)
Stories, values, and culture are threaded in the work on display at 'RUGLAND.' (Art by Natasha Plaza, provided by ArtYard)

Threading stories

Art is the fabric that binds a culture. The creators of art tell the stories in words, paint, music, and cloth, of their lives, their values, and their visions. Disability informs culture as much as any other aspect of identity, yet is so rarely centralized as a unifying theme. CCW provides a place where disabled artists can connect with and nurture their skills and provide a cultural identity for themselves and their communities while also giving them space to be at the center of their own experiences.

RUGLAND promises to explore the full spectrum of creation and collaboration possible through textile work, but more importantly, it gives artists an unfettered opportunity to weave their own stories. Inclusion begins with amplification, and the stories presented through RUGLAND give everyone a chance to share their experiences.

What, When, Where

Center for Creative Works presents RUGLAND, an exhibit of punch-tufted wall tapestries with an opening reception on Saturday, January 18, from 6 to 8pm. The exhibit runs through April 12 at ArtYard, 62A Trenton Ave., Frenchtown, NJ.

ArtYard is a wheelchair accessible venue.

Sign up for our newsletter

All of the week's new articles, all in one place. Sign up for the free weekly BSR newsletters, and don't miss a conversation.

Join the Conversation