Superheroes! Art Exhibition
In many ways, the opening of the Superheroes! art exhibition at Kidspace mirrored art show openings at museums across Los Angeles. The pieces were professionally curated and hung next to didactics that introduced the artists and explained their processes. There were snacks and drinks, official remarks and selfies.
But this was no run-of-the-mill exhibition opening. The Superheroes! show was, as the invitation promised, “A Celebration of Art, Ability, and Possibility.”
“It may seem strange to host an adult art exhibition at a children’s museum, but this show grew organically out of two long-term partnerships; our community art-making initiatives with Transformative Arts, and an inclusive employment program with Tierra del Sol. It’s a beautiful expression of our shared values and commitments,” said Kidspace CEO Lisa Clements.
For more than a decade, Kidspace has worked with Tierra del Sol Foundation to advance its mission to champion inclusion and value for people with disabilities through creative pathways to employment, education, and the arts. The museum currently employs three Tierra associates: Becky O’Donnell, Kurt Freidenberger, and Karen Hoge. “Having Tierra associates on our team sets an example to all the children that come here,” explained Senior Manager of Floor Operations Vince Dominguez, who oversees the program. “Representation matters. It says, ‘yes, you can have a disability and still have a career and make a difference in the community.’”
Every superhero has an origin story, and this one was fueled by serendipity. “One day jill moniz, the founder of Transformative Arts, invited me to a Tierra art show downtown, and I asked, ‘Tierra del Sol? Our Tierra?’ I was unaware that in addition to workplace access they also offer a robust and beautiful studio art program,” said Clements. “When we put the pieces together, we knew we could create something special. We were fortunate that the Pasadena Arts and Culture Commission realized the value of this show and stepped in to underwrite it.”
The installation by artists Marlena Arthur, Catherine Benita, Kevin Bermudez, Julia Hagen-Brenner, Jorrel De La Rosa, Jose Hernandez, Herb Herod, Evan Hynes, Daniel Padilla, and Anthony Perez from the Tierra Del Sol Studio Art Program is a reminder that regardless of disability or ability, all people can live lives of meaning and creativity to contribute to the greater good.
The artists worked in a variety of mediums, from ceramics and textiles to painting, drawing, and digital art. Their pieces explored themes of strength and courage, joy and beauty, individuality and friendship.
The opening panel of the show read:
For over thirty years, the Tierra del Sol Foundation has launched the careers of talented artists whose works have been featured in art fairs, galleries, and museums across the country. Beyond the arts, Tierra offers career exploration, skills development, and supported or independent work opportunities in industries throughout Southern California. Kidspace and Transformative Arts are proud partners and beneficiaries of this mission. Through our collaboration with Tierra graduates, we have strengthened our belief that everyone who contributes effort, stories, language, and commitment to doing their best for families, friends, and communities is a superhero!
Kidspace, Transformative Arts, and Tierra del Sol are already planning their next show in 2024.