‘Community Threads: Seven Hills Saori Weaving Project’ to be displayed at Holy Cross

Showcase celebrates local artists with disabilities during second installation of groundbreaking

October 5th, 2012 by Cristal Steuer


From left: Untitled (chair) by Judith Scott on display in the second installment of “Create”; and Collaborative Saori weaving project by participants from Seven Hills Foundation in Worcester.

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross will exhibit weavings produced by individuals participating in the Saori Weaving Project at Seven Hills Foundation day programs (in Worcester, Mass.) in the Cantor Resource Gallery, located adjacent to the main gallery space beginning on Monday, Oct. 29.  The display will run in conjunction with the second installation of the “Create” exhibit, which showcases artwork produced over the last 20 years at the leading centers for artists with disabilities in the U.S., on view from Monday, Oct. 22 – Dec. 8.  An opening reception for both exhibits will be held on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Roger Hankins, director of the Cantor Art Gallery, is pleased to be able to provide an opportunity for local artsits supported by Seven Hills to share their work with the Holy Cross and Worcester communities. “The goal with the Create exhibition and Seven Hills collaboration is to open a dialogue about the potential of every individual, regardless of their ability, to be creatively engaged and to produce work that is worthy of recognition at the highest levels.”

“Create” presents 20 artists, whose work in a variety of mediums and styles, celebrates artistic achievement that has flourished in three pioneering art centers in the San Francisco Bay Area: Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, San Francisco’s Creativity Explored, and the National Institute for Art and Disability (NIAD) Art Center in Richmond.

Seven Hills Foundation, which promotes and encourages the empowerment of people with significant challenges, began the Saori Weaving Project several years ago in its Worcester location.  Participants took classes with Mihoko Wakabayashi, an artist and proprietor of Saori Worcester, and in 2007 the organization became a Saori Pioneer Coaching Site.  Seven Hills purchased their first two unique, accessible and adaptable looms, and three staff members completed the full Saori beginners course to become Saori Coaches.

Seven Hills day program weavers contributed three from a total of 66 banners created for the Saori Bridges of Elm Park project in 2010, sales of which supported scholarships for youth in the neighborhoods surrounding the Saori studio located off Pleasant Street in Worcester.

In the fall of 2011, Seven Hills Family Services (SHFS) Inc. received a grant from the Worcester Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, to expand the Saori weaving opportunities to adults with significant disabilities who are enrolled in the Adult Day Health and Day Habilitation Programs located in Worcester and Devens, Mass.

According to Maribeth Fisher, assistant vice president of Seven Hills Family Services, “the grant resulted in the training of five additional staff coaches to work with individuals in creating beautiful weavings, some of which have been fashioned into functional, wearable or sculptural art.”

Funds from the Worcester Cultural Council also assisted in covering the cost of thread, yarn, bobbins, and the purchase of additional inside sets, in order for individuals to work on independent projects over time.

“The collaboration with the Cantor Art Gallery and the ‘Create’ exhibit was the culmination of many hours of weaving, sewing, planning, serendipity, creativity and community, reflected by the show’s title ‘Community Threads: Seven Hills Saori Weaving Project,’” says Fisher.

Wakabayashi, artist and proprietor of Saori Worcester, teaches Saori to students of all ages and abilities.  She has participated in numerous local events inlcuding the Worcester Center for Crafts shows, stART on the Street, Massachusetts Special Olympics, Worcester’s Asian Festival, First Night Worcester, and First Night Boston.  Her work has been on display in many venues, inlcuding the Arts Worcester Gallery and the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham.

Events

Opening, second installment of ‘Create,’ Monday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Opening, ‘Community Threads: Seven Hills Saori Weaving Project,’ Monday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Opening Reception for both exhibitions, Thursday, Nov. 1, 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Gallery Information

Founded in 1983 through the generosity of Iris & B. Gerald Cantor, the Cantor Art Gallery serves both as a venue for a changing series of historical and contemporary public exhibitions, as well as a vital resource for Holy Cross faculty and students, linking exhibitions to the broader liberal arts curriculum.

The hours for the Cantor Art Gallery are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 2 – 5 p.m. Located in O’Kane Hall, 1st Floor, College of the Holy Cross, 1 College Street, Worcester, Mass., 01610.  Visitors needing assistance with handicap accessibility should call Public Safety at 508-793-2011. Admission to the gallery is free.

For additional information please call 508-793-3356 or visit the Gallery’s website.

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