SMEC Show Runs Through June at Museum’s ArtWorks Gallery
DARTMOUTH — Executive Director Catherine Cooper is pleased to announce that a new art exhibit opened recently that features artistic creations from all of the programs within the Southeastern Massachusetts Educational Collaborative.
The exhibition, titled “Exploring Community, Self and Location,” is running now through July 1 at ArtWorks, a gallery space located in the basement level of the New Bedford Art Museum. It features art representing artists from all SMEC programs created during the 2021-22 academic year. The public is encouraged to visit the exhibition to celebrate the creations the students made as well as the ideas and processes explored along the way.
As part of the show, there also will be community interactive stations within the gallery space that will allow guests to contribute to the ongoing discussion and investigation into the theme of “community, self and location.”
The art was created under the guidance of SMEC art instructor Nicole Winning. Every piece featured is unique, made from recycled art materials such as food containers, shipping boxes, and more. Winning not only helped students create the art but engaged them in deeper discussions that connected the art to the world in which the students live.
“It’s not just about making art, but about being an effective and involved member of the community,” Winning said. “Art should be thought-provoking for the artist, and for the viewer. A major lesson I wanted to teach was that an artist’s work doesn’t stop with them, it extends to those who are experiencing it.”
Winning, who has been a certified yoga and mindfulness meditation teacher since 2010, had previously contracted with SMEC to lead mindfulness exercises for various programs. Earlier this year she came on as a part-time art therapist. The art created this year allowed Winning to broaden students’ horizons in new ways through self-expression and creativity.
“I have always been interested in the connection between special education and art, and finding ways for those with learning disabilities to use art in unique ways that aren’t always represented,” she said. “The fresh perspectives the students come up with give new interpretations of what art is and what it can be. It is so important to get them to engage in the free thinking that comes with the artistic process, and SMEC recognizes this and embraces it, and allows students to be able to see the real value in what they create.”
More than 200 students took part in creating the art for this exhibit, representing a cross-section of the programs SMEC offers.
“The students worked so hard to showcase their talents,” Director Cooper said. “This was an awesome opportunity for them to learn about art while also creating something unique that is reflective of who they are. It has given them confidence, and has been truly rewarding for all involved.”
In addition to the ongoing exhibit, ArtWorks will be taking part in an “AHA!” night on Thursday, June 9 from 5-7 p.m. AHA! is a regularly scheduled night of community engagement for businesses and galleries in downtown New Bedford. Admission to all galleries and museums in the city is free to the public.
The night will feature music, art, food and community fun. Residents are encouraged to visit ArtWorks and the New Bedford Art Museum on June 9 to see not only the work on display through SMEC but also all the NBAM has to offer.
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The Southeastern Massachusetts Educational Collaborative is a public education collaborative established in 1975 that serves as an extension of the public school systems that make up its membership. The present membership includes the Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Fall River, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, Rochester, and Old Rochester Regional public school districts. SMEC programs and services are locally based and locally directed, and are designed to supplement the special education resources of its member districts. Visit smecollaborative.org to learn more.