Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Down Syndrome Day

I didn't have a chance to post yesterday, because we were doing something *amazing* - we were celebrating the first annual World Down Syndrome Day!
Son (7 years old, mind you) made his artistic debut in an art show in *New York CITY!*(as Son likes to emphasize)  He was one of only two children on display. As one of the many things Son's teacher has done above and beyond his requirements as a teacher, he submitted four photographs that Son took using his school iPad.
the two photographs on top are Son's

When Son's teacher contacted the organization, Alexander's Angels, he was told that this was a professional art show, but to submit the photos and the curator would decide what to do with them. Needless to say, obviously the curator approved them, because here we were last night, making our way to Son's favorite place (he told us he wants to live there).

Yes, part of me thought the whole thing was funny - I mean really, it wasn't like Son thought about the composition of his photographs, or the message he wanted to send. He chose the filter he wanted to use, and had fun with it. But isn't having fun part of it? Sometimes the more thought you put in, the worse it comes out. Maybe he really will be a photographer someday, and maybe this experience will help shape him. Regardless of his future, it was a great experience, and I believe it helped shape me.
I came away with a renewed hope in the future and the knowledge that just because you have a disability, does not mean you can't be a good artist. Some of the paintings were being sold for thousands of dollars!

the one on the left was amazing - and a three dimensional painting

love these!


I enjoyed chatting with the featured artists. It was refreshing to see how proud they were of their work, without any of the false humility that tends to hover around the rest of us. I know that pride is not one of the virtues, but if you have false humility, it kind of rots the intention. It was beautiful to see that openness - this is *my* work, and I'm not afraid to show it! For one of the artists, it was more important to show me his name in writing next to his paintings than to show me his actual paintings -"I'm right here, and I'm right here, and I'm right here" Another young woman stood seriously by my side as I examined her work. When I complimented it (it was really awesome), she solemnly said thank you, and then she couldn't hold it in - she smiled wide, and tried to cover it up. I love moments like that.
At one point, I was waiting to speak to someone, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Son stick his tongue out at someone and smile. Who is he doing that to?! I thought. Turns out, a man with Down syndrome was egging him on, and I said, laughing, "What is going on here?" "Nothing!" he replied, and proceeded with, "I'm an artist!" So of course, I had to get a personal tour of his work.
The featured artists were from all around the whole world - Australia, England, the United States, to name a few. One young photographer flew in from England for the first time. He told me that he watched a really scary movie on the plane with werewolves in it that he turned off and opted for Toy Story 3. A good choice, I thought. I was very touched to notice that he came with his sister, and his sister was taking every opportunity to introduce her brother to the other artists. So this wasn't just about showing your art and being seen, it was about making connections, uniting ourselves to a common purpose, and furthering our exposure and building our relationships.
I was so happy to have a supportive representation of people in our life. Of course Son's immediate family (we even brought Baby, and he was very well behaved for a 17 month old), and my parents, but also family friends who have supported us in every Down syndrome endeavor to date. And I can't forget Son's teacher and speech therapist who spent all day at the UN attending events for Down Syndrome Day, and then came to the reception at the art gallery. Wish my sister could have been here for this...

the entourage
Son's teachers with photography in the background

 The show is from March 21-March 29, so if you are in the area and have a minute, it is really worth your time! 28on27 - 28 27th St, NY, NY (between Broadway and 6th) on the second floor.

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