People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.
It is six in the morning on the last Sunday of November and I have been in the college for at least an hour already. Earlier this fall I impulsively decided to "have fun" by taking this documentary production course without realizing that I was about to embark on my most Sisyphean adventure ever.
Abraham Maslow so brilliantly declared that "What a man can be, he must be. He must be true to his own nature" and this has been my long adopted constant in life. You see, he totally convinced me that when one has a conducive social context in which to validate our perceived worth, we have fertile ground for the development and realization of our full potentials. He also claimed that self-esteem and the need to assure ourselves of our own worth is achieved within family, friendship, and within communities. In our western societies we too often underplay the deep importance of belongingness, and as a result there are people dying in utter loneliness. We all have an innate desire for community and to engage in activities that give us a sense of contribution, acceptance, and self-value in all sorts of small and big contexts that could be as universal and highly abstract as with artists.
Current practices in the field of special education are being called out and their validity seriously questioned, thereby demanding that new paradigms be created and embraced. It is precisely through H'Art of Ottawa's teaching approach to developmentally challenged adults that new paradigms are emerging. More than just teaching art, H'Art is actually cultivating in their participants a sense of belongingness in an artistic community by encouraging them to be contributing members of the community by sharing their work.
The core belief of H'Art is that everybody has the right to realize their full potential. They work relentlessly toward facilitating support and integration of the developmentally disabled population of Ottawa in a manner that embraces truthfulness.
"We all have limitations to overcome one way or another, but these artists not only inspire us to paint, they inspire us as people through their confidence, the way they accept the challenge…it is a wonderful win-win situation" said Lin Rowsell, executive director. That sentiment reverberates within me so strongly even when my short project feels like a totally failed technical challenge. Getting to know the artists of H'Art has exposed me to their simplicity, naturalness and incredibly rich inner life, giving me a stronger sense of self-actualization by becoming all I am meant to be, along the lines dictated by my inner nature.
Now, if you will excuse me, I've got some more transcribing to do.