- Written by Marcus Chiaretto
- Published: 26 October 2017
In a repurposed mill building nestled in the city of Easthampton, there are artists busy at work. Riverside Arts, a program of Riverside Industries (RSI), gives individuals with disabilities the opportunity to learn new artistic skills and experiment with different mediums in order to explore their creative potential. As with all of Riverside’s programs, the ultimate goal is to help individuals develop life skills and find employment opportunities. In particular, Riverside Arts assists people with disabilities in honing their artistry and exhibiting their work in the community.
Coralie, who has been attending RSI Arts for over six years, focuses on painting as her primary art form. She was initially inspired after attending an art class at the Springfield College Museum, and now regularly paints landscapes and the natural environment. A piece she’s currently working on is inspired by the floral still-life paintings of Vincent van Gogh. “I love it. It feels great to be able to make and sell my own art – I’ve even been commissioned to make paintings!”
Another artist named Marie focuses on realistic and intricate anatomical illustrations. “When I started drawing in high school, I mainly focused on the human form. Now, I’m trying to look more at the skeletons of other species and think about how they move.”
“We want to give people a place where they can practice and learn new techniques,” says Halley Philips, who coordinates the arts program. “We help the artists to exhibit and sell their art so they can present their accomplishments to others.” According to Halley, the artists in this program find a sense of empowerment and pride through their work, as well as having the opportunity to form an artistic community.