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Sept/Oct 2021: National accessArts

This summer, six artists from the National accessArts Centre (NaAC) began working on the inaugural exhibition for the Crescent Heights Mini Galleries, demonstrating that beauty can be found in small places. 

NaAC is Canada’s oldest and largest disability arts organization – and in 2020, became the country’s first multidisciplinary disability arts organization. Today, the NaAC supports more than 300 artists living with developmental and/or physical disabilities through on-site studio supports and workshops, and an even broader community of Canadian artists with disabilities through immersive programs delivered online. Crescent Heights Mini Galleries September/October exhibition will feature works by NaAC artists: Avik Bose, Siena Fortini, Leonka Kaluha, Brad McCAull, Sandy Milne and JorDen Tysen.

EXPLORE THE MINI GALLERIES WITH A SCAVENGER HUNT!

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JorDen Tyson

Daydreaming Fairy, 12 X 16 in., 2021, Wire Sculpture

Artist Bio:

My name is JorDen Tyson, and I am an artist living in Calgary. I’ve considered myself an artist since I was little, and I’ve been attending the National AccessArt Centre since 2019. Art makes me feel good! It is a way for me to express my feelings. My favourite way to express myself is through paint, but I also love to use different methods such as sculpture. I’ve recently started using wire to share my love of fairies. 

I am also a figure skater and have competed and won gold at the Special Olympics in Austria and the 2015 Canada Games. I’m proud to be representing Canada when I compete at the Special Olympics in Russia. I hope I can bring home another gold medal! Figure skating influences my artwork. Our outfits need to sparkle, and I love to add glitter and glamour to my art! 

Statement: 

The enchanting qualities of fairies inspired this work. I used different gages of wire to bend and shape my fairy, and wire was a new material for me. I like the fairy’s wings, and their capacity to love people. If you are lucky, one of these fairies might just visit and give you a kiss!


Brad McCaull

Blue Planet, 12 X 16, 2021, Assemblage

Artist Bio:

My name is Brad, and I have been an artist with the NAAC for over ten years! I was born in Edmonton, but I now live in Calgary. I mostly like to create landscape paintings with watercolour and acrylic. 

I like spending time outside, and my surroundings inspire my landscape paintings. 

I’ve always found ocean and underwater documentaries fascinating! The landscapes are beautiful and unique, and the wide variety of colours and shapes has always intrigued me. 

I work in as many different art forms as I can. I enjoy trying fibre and ceramics art just as much as painting! I’m also proud of how many exhibition opportunities I’ve had. I’ve shown my work in Calgary, and in 2019 a piece of mine was exhibited in Guadalajara, Mexico. I love sharing my art because people are very encouraging. It makes me want to create more!   

Artist Statement: 

I love the sea — it’s so mysterious, and there’s so much we have yet to explore. I love learning about the ocean, so I began this project by researching sea life. That was the reference for my sculptures. The variety of blues in the ocean’s water was the inspiration for my backdrop. I hope my work transports you! 


Leonka Kaluha

My Secret Garden, 12 X 16 in., 2021, Modeling Clay/Acrylic

Artist Bio:

I am a Special Olympic athlete, volunteer, artist, and part-time employee at Sobey’s. I advocate against bullying and have spoken to groups ranging in size from 20 people to several hundred. I believe everyone should have equal choices and opportunities, and it’s important to me that my artwork makes someone smile. I want people to know that nobody can stop you from doing what makes you happy. As I say at the end of my speeches, eluding to those who discouraged me, “What would they say if they could see me now?”

When I create artwork, I like using bright colours and experimenting with different textures. Art can be challenging, but I find it very calming. It usually takes me to my “happy place.” Sharing my art proves that the time I spent colouring and drawing as I grew up was time well spent. I was often discouraged from making art and told that it was a waste of time. However, art has opened doors and given me opportunities I could never have imagined. I’ve shown my work in Hong Kong and South Korea, had works selected for merchandise, and proudly helped design the 2019 Alberta Special Winter Olympics cauldron! 

Artist Statement:

Welcome to ‘My Secret Garden,’ filled with bright and colourful flowers and foliage. Also, no garden is complete without a few butterflies fluttering about! My piece is made from DAS clay, painted with acrylic to bring them to life, and sealed with modge podge to preserve them.  

When people look at my piece, I hope it puts a smile on their face and reminds them of the beauty and calmness of nature found in our back yards. Just take time to enjoy it!


Avik Bose

Nāṭya Śāstra, 12 X 16 in., 2021, Mixed Media

Artist Bio:

My name is Avik, and I was born in India. I live in Calgary, but I love to travel all over the world with my dad. I have loved drawing, especially colouring and painting, throughout my life. I’ve worked with the NAAC for nearly six years and recently returned after living in Texas for four years. When I was a child, I loved the geometric patterns of household objects. I started by focusing on and drawing the edges. Initially, I focused on the parts I liked most, like the handles of cups or the lids of bottles. Then slowly, I started capturing the whole thing. I use lots of bright colours because they bring me happiness. I also love food; the colours, aromas, and tastes take me into the world of art. I also love nature and animals. When I walk in nature, the smell of pine, mint, and wildflowers inspires me. My mom is also an artist, and I love her art. Painting is my strength, and I have exhibited in Dubai, the United States, India, and locally. 

Statement: 

This work is inspired Indian traditional dance and performance. I am drawn to bright colours that are full of life. I was influenced by the traditional Indian performances and dances my mother shared with me. I hope that you feel a sense of connection to nature and humankind while looking at my work.


Sandy Milne

A Happy Party, 12 X 16”, 2021, Mini Diorama

Artist Bio:

My name is Sandy Milne, I’m 61, and I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. I started drawing when I was young and continued art classes in high school, attended the Alberta College of Art and Design for a year, and took oil painting classes at the University of Calgary. I love all kinds of art, but oil, watercolour, and acrylic paints are my most common. I enjoy painting landscapes, love creating characters (people, animals, and fantasy creatures) in ceramics, fimo and needle felting, and never seem to be short of ideas. Sometimes I use photo references, and sometimes I make it up on my own. For instance, many people have commissioned me to paint their favourite people and pets. 

I feel like I achieve a lot through all aspects of my work. Working on art helps me relax, gives me a sense of freedom, and always surprises me. I like to challenge myself with my artwork, and because it makes me happy, others are happy for me. They know I am very proud of myself. I find solitude in art, and I feel very fortunate to work on my practice as much as I do. Over the years, I’ve won various competitions, including Calgary Heritage Park Fall Fair, Stampede Western Creative Arts and Crafts Showcase, and Spruce Meadows. 

Statement:

In this work, I wanted to explore my ability to do something beautiful yet very small. While this project took much patience, I am thrilled with the outcome. It’s a bit of an exercise for me to continue learning to make my miniatures, as inspired by other artists. I hope you find the same joy in viewing my piece as I did making it!


Siena Fortini
Sun Comes Out, 12 X 16 in., 2021, Mixed-media

Artist Bio

My name is Siena, and I am a 21-year-old artist based in Calgary. I recently started working with the National accessArts Centre, trying new art forms and exploring old favourites — drawing & painting. I get inspiration from my mom and grandma and sometimes recreate my mom’s art. While my work is often abstract, I also take inspiration from animals and sea creatures. Art calms me because nobody can tell me I’m doing it wrong. It gives me a sense of freedom. Pictures are very important to me because they help me understand and communicate. I sometimes need support speaking but art gives me a way to express myself visually. When I am not making art, I love to swim, play soccer and golf, go snowshoeing and laugh. This Mini Gallery exhibition will be my first time sharing my art with people outside of my family. I am both shy and excited!

Statement:

This piece is inspired by spending time in nature. I love to go for walks and hiking with my dog. Being outside makes me feel happy and healthy. I like to see the different plants and animals. To make this work, I began by taking some photos with a disposable camera. Once the pictures were developed, I used them to create a mixed-media collage. I wanted to incorporate pieces of nature, so I have also collected some beautiful objects to enhance my work.