November’s Art Walk will not be the same as the Hibbleton art gallery opened up their doors for Phi Theta Kappa to showcase The Art of Hope exhibit. It displayed the work of Hope University’s artists that opened up on Friday.
Hope University is a distinct fine arts program for adults with intellectual disabilities.
Lisa Lo Russo, curator of the show and art instructor at Hope U, describes her work a place that she loves to be a part of.
“Hope is a magical place, on paper it’s a fine arts day program for adults with intellectual disabilities,” said Lo Russo.
The introduction of Hope U in 1979 centered on the idea of discovering the artistic identity of people with disabilities. It’s an idea that still resonates greatly in the program and one that Artistic Director Shelley RuggThorp is proud to still carry forward.
“Our program works to discover the talent of our artist and draw it out, build it, develop it and give them opportunities at the professional level,” said RuggThorp.
Instructors and artists boldly welcomed in guests into the exhibit.
An intricately and well-crafted embroidered floss and burlap art piece is displayed as artist and 16-year-student Ben Simendinger stands next to his work with a confidence that outweighs anyone to even notice the walking cane in his hand to aid him in his visual impairment.
“It’s one thing that they are people with disabilities but they are artists first and foremost. That’s the important thing to keep reminding people,” said Jenny Cho an art major and PTK member.
“We don’t want people to get caught up with the disabilities, we want them to notice their work first,” said Cho.
It was a room filled with applause and whistles as the Hi Hopes band took the stage and demonstrated Hope U’s performing arts program.
“When I started working here I felt like I landed into the lap of unconditional love because my students are joyful, loving, funny and creative,” Lo Russo said.
“I worked my way up, I did not just jump into the group feet first it took hard work,” said Cathy Acton, a singer for Hi Hopes
The success of the event was possible with the hard work and dedication from the PTK club president Arantza Ceballos.
“We have all been waiting anxiously for this [event]. We were unsure how it was going to turn out. We would ask ourselves are we thinking too big? It seemed like a lot of barriers,” Ceballos said. “The fact that we were able to overcome it and see the final product makes it much more satisfying to see how successful it truly was.”
PTK’s relentlessness to help and serve certainly paid off as Hope U completely entrusted the club with the event and gave them the opportunity to really gain leadership experience by having full control of the show.
Hope U’s artwork will be displayed now through Nov. 23 at the Hibbleton located at 223 W. Santa Fe Ave.