SSU art exhibit brings awareness to the creativity of disabled individuals

The Sonoma State University Library Gallery has been recognized recently after a creative art exhibit was placed in the second floor of the building. 

Alchemia: A Spectrum of Creativity, is an exhibition that displays many types of art such as paintings and ceramic pieces. 

The exhibition was created collaboratively with the University Library Gallery Committee and the non profit organization Alchemia. 

Junior Ava Garcia looks a unique piece of art at Alchemia: A Spectrum of Creativity in Sonoma State’s Art Gallery. STAR // Jessica Rivera

Junior Ava Garcia looks a unique piece of art at Alchemia: A Spectrum of Creativity in Sonoma State’s Art Gallery. STAR // Jessica Rivera

The organization is focused towards helping those with disabilities find a way to creatively express themselves. The pieces of art in this exhibit are all created by individuals with disabilities, varying from colorful, dynamic paintings to smaller ceramic animals. 

The program helps to gain more awareness towards this unique style of art and what these individuals have to offer. 

Liz Jahren, the artistic director of Alchemia, said that they were particularly interested with examining this style of art. Jahren is an alumni of Sonoma State, so she felt it was best to bring this exhibit somewhere she is familiar with. 

She said that over the years, it has changed her life working with these individuals,“It’s an exuberance of life and spirit that comes through their choices of color, and what they choose to draw, paint, or create.” 

Jahren enjoys spending time with these individuals, since she says can relate to the “outsider identity” that they may be facing themselves. 

Jahren is also looking for any students interested in being a facilitator or mentor for Alchemia, which includes helping these individuals and being apart of someone’s artistic journey as they grow.

Along with Jahren, Darren Sargent took part in creating this exhibit in the university library. Sargent, curator of A Spectrum of Creativity, says that he was inspired by these artists’ talent and hard work that goes into creating these pieces. 

Sargent chose which pieces would be placed in the exhibit, and also expanding it to other parts of the library as well. These additional pieces of art can be seen on the North side of the second floor spreading out along the back wall. 

“This exhibition gave me the opportunity to re-examine the joy of the creative process in my own work without the extraneous factors often influencing and motivating normal abled artists,” said Sargent. He adds that is was very inspiring and humbling to see the talent of these individuals and the creative pieces that they make. 

Megan Sollenberger, a third year Geography major, was inspired by this exhibit and the message it is sending to others. 

“It is important for everyone to express themselves creatively whichever way that will be; I am happy there is an exhibit on campus that is very inclusive for other students,” said Sollenberger. 

She adds that it is special to have these pieces of art shown on a larger spectrum, since this style of art may not be recognized as much. 

Sollenberger spends most of her time studying in the library, so she enjoys seeing the diversity of exhibits being shown periodically in the gallery. 

The vision for Alchemia states, “A future in which all people with disabilities are valued as contributing members of our society.” 

This exhibit helps to push those boundaries and allow these individuals to express themselves in a way they feel most comfortable.

The exhibit is specifically located by the entrance of the library through the second floor. The exhibition will continue through March 25, with a reception being held on Feb. 27 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.