VisAbility Art Lab is a studio program that provides artists with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities a place and the resources to create art and develop the skills necessary to work in the arts.
The program is fully integrated into VisArts, and Lab artists enjoy all the advantages of an arts organization that features galleries, exhibitions, a studio artist program, and art classes and camps. Here, they’re free to discover and explore their talents, express their ideas, and start their careers as artists.
The Lab was created in 2015 for neurodiverse artists to make art at their own pace, gain experience in applying and preparing for exhibitions, and learn how to advocate for themselves as artists. Today, the program features a light-filled, street-level studio; art supplies; professional development workshops; a gallery that’s open to the public; an annual exhibition at VisArts; peer feedback; and career mentorship by artists, curators, instructors, students, and staff in our community.
The program has grown from four to more than 30 participants who work independently alongside other artists with similar interests and common goals. Lab artists encourage and support each other, hold their colleagues accountable, and often become friends. They also apply their knowledge – and increased confidence – to other professional and volunteer pursuits, including disability advocacy at the state and federal level, Special Olympics, and more.
The Lab is in VisArts’ Pop-Up at 36F Maryland Avenue; it’s open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Lab artists work in an informal yet professional setting for full- or half-day sessions and create in a variety of media, including ceramics, glass, digital art, painting, drawing, and sculpture.
VisArts promotes the artists and their work on the organization’s website, in email newsletters, and on social media. Like all professional artists, Lab participants are paid when they sell their art; they’ve earned more than $22,500 since the program launched. Recently, Amazon purchased art by two Lab artists to feature in connection with the Prime Video series, As We See It, and a third Lab artist was selected to help design a mural at Wheaton Regional Park to celebrate Autism Awareness month. Other Lab artists have had their work included in local and regional juried exhibitions.
Each year, Lab artists exhibit selected works in VisArts’ Concourse Gallery. The show is held in conjunction with exhibitions in our three other galleries, which showcase the work of emerging to mid-career contemporary artists. Lab artists have numerous opportunities to present their work at other venues, including Round House Theatre, the Ratner Museum, the American Visionary Art Museum, Art Enables, The Arc Baltimore, Shop 53 Tattoo and Art Studio, and the Takoma Park Folk Festival. They also show their work at VisArts’ Rockville Arts Festival and host open studios where visitors can view and buy original pieces.
2022-2023 VisAbility Art Lab Artists
Justin Andrews, Corey Barbee, James Billian, Edward Chance Jr., Marti Clark, Maven Kahn, Sarah Dorros, Andrew Holton, Uriel Levitt, Jared Max, Shaun McDonald, Faith McLuckie, Sebastian Nkongolo, Daniella Noboa, Jeremy Pedneau, Max Poznerzon, Stanley Roth, Carly Ruderman, Nadia Safarazan, Lindsey Schaufelberger, Yelena Simpson, Ella Smith, Cara Thompson, Justin Valenti, Louis Von Rago, Kate WhitmoreLearn More