James Ilves spreads bright primary colours onto paper with a paintbrush, creating an abstract art piece.
The young man, who takes part in L'Arche Sudbury's day programming, was one of a couple dozen people at the launch of the organization's Sage and Time Art Project March 21.
“I'm doing a good job with my art along with my friends,” he said.
Across the table, L'Arche Sudbury resident Audrey Penn works on her piece.
Wearing a bright smile, the woman has her wheelchair pulled up next to Jen Cawley-Caruso, the president of L'Arche Sudbury's board of directors, who says she's Penn's friend of 30 years.
Led by local artist Brigitte Bere, the pieces created during the program's launch will be compiled into a piece that will be displayed at Public Health Sudbury & Districts.
They were created using alcohol ink and rubbing alcohol on durable material called yupo paper. Bere said she thought some of the resulting art was “stunning.”
“I'm sure that all the 11 other artists involved, they will have a similar experience, because it's very gratifying,” she said.
Funded by a $25,000 federal grant from the New Horizons Seniors Program, the year-long Sage and Time program will bring 12 local artists to L'Arche to create group art projects, each with a different theme.
The program will result in a new collective piece each month to be displayed around the city. Partners from community organizations will also be invited to take part in the monthly sessions.
During the program launch, Sage and Time guests included Special Olympians and even a representative of the Sudbury Wolves.
Andrew Dale, the Sudbury Wolves' vice-president of marketing and development, said he would have sent a couple of players, but they'd already gone home after failing to make it to the playoffs.
“This is what the Wolves want to be as part of the community,” he said. “They want to be integrated, and not just about sports.”
Founded in 1982, L'Arche Sudbury seeks to celebrate “the gifts of people with intellectual disabilities through mutually transforming relationships,” said the organization's executive director, Jennifer McCauley.
It currently has two local residential homes where 15 people with intellectual disabilities live alongside assistants. It also provides day programming to 12 people who live in the community.
Many of L'Arche's residents are aging, and the Sage and Time project promotes the inclusion of seniors while giving members of the broader community a chance to spend time with people with intellectual disabilities, McCauley said.
It also showcases the skills of L'Arche Sudbury members, providing “an opportunity to share their creative art, to talk about their story and just to laugh alongside people, and to have fun doing a creative activity,” she said.
For more information about the organization, visit L'Arche Sudbury's website.