The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) will open a new exhibit, ART ROMPP 2009, on Oct. 23, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. An opening reception to celebrate the show will be held there on Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 5 - 7:30 p.m., with refreshments, music by Reid Stevens and A-Side 45, a sewing demonstration by Christie and Donna Wilfong, a Labyrinth Walk of Peace made possible by the Sisters of St. Joseph’s Charitable Fund, and a movie entitled The Art of Riva Lehrer. The exhibit will remain on display through Nov. 22.
ROMPP is the acronym for Real Opportunities Make People Productive, and is a program of the Center for Excellence in Disabilities (CED) at West Virginia University. 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 fine arts are one of the most beautiful things life has to offer, but many people with disabilities that I know have never been in a museum or had an opportunity to paint or play an instrument,” says Helen Panzironi, fine arts and outreach training coordinator for CED. “I find this totally unacceptable,” she continues. “I often use the phrase ‘reintegrating people into the arts’ because people with disabilities have created art for generations,” citing artists such as Beethoven who was deaf, Hector Berlioz who had epilepsy, and Alicia Alonso, who opened Cuba’s first ballet company though she was blind.
The exhibit features more than 50 pieces of two-dimensional artwork, small sculptures, textile work and photography. It is a collaborative venture between the CED, the WVU College of Creative Arts, the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the WVDCH.
The musical group for the evening event features Reid Stevens of Hurricane who has dreams of having a record deal. He has been playing bass guitar since he was a teenager. After years of perfecting his craft he contacted the CED to enter the fine arts program. He has had muscular dystrophy since he was a child, and hopes the CED can assist him in purchasing the equipment he needs to get a recording contract.
The Art of Riva Lehrer (approximately 15 min.) focuses on Lehrer’s work. She is an artist with a disability who paints about sexuality, feminism and disabilities.
Christie Wilfong has been involved in art as far back as she can remember. A lifelong resident of Weston, she began weaving at an early age when she designed a frame loom and her brother built it for her from a recycled window frame. Wilfong, who is confined to a wheelchair, will demonstrate how she creates woven textile designs.
The mission of the Center for Excellence in disabilities Fine Arts program/ROMPP is to support artists who have disabilities so they may achieve their goals for the future. Whether interested in the arts as a profession, or as a hobby, or just for exploration, the ROMPP staff members act as navigators linking people with a diverse range of community opportunities. The essence of this program involves increasing access to community resources to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the fine arts.
For more information, contact Charles Morris, collections and exhibits manager for the WVDCH, at (304) 558-0220, ext. 704.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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