By Aimee Mepham, Program Coordinator, WFU Humanities Institute
The multimedia exhibition “The Story of My Life” opened on Friday, October 11, 2013 at the Eleanor and Egbert Davis Gallery at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. The exhibit follows the lives of six intellectually and developmentally disabled adults and tells their stories through photography, written and spoken word, and various visual art forms. These richly layered narratives bear witness to the lives of the remarkable men and women, residents of Group Homes of Forsyth, who helped create them.
The project is a collaboration among WFU lecturer in English Phoebe Zerwick, photographer Christine Rucker, journalist Michelle Johnson, faculty at the Sawtooth School, and the six adults featured in the exhibit, who worked individually with artists to find media that spoke to them. The WFU Humanities Institute provided funding and support for the project as part of a larger effort to bring humanities projects to public audiences and to support university and community partnerships in the humanities.
“Everyone has a story,” Zerwick said. “We wanted to tell the stories of people who are often marginalized in our culture but whose lives are filled with meaning, joy and a profound sense of community.”
The Eleanor and Egbert Davis Gallery was filled with community members, faculty and staff from the Sawtooth School, Wake Forest University faculty and staff, and of course, the six featured men and women and their families.
JoAnne Vernon, Executive Director of the Sawtooth School opened the exhibit by recognizing the six artists and residents of Group Homes of Forsyth – Cecelia Henry, Karen Lash, John Linville, Ghree Lockard, James Lowdermilk, and Greg Silvernail – as well as the faculty at Sawtooth who worked with them – Nannette Davis, Mary Gunyzulu, Amy Kincaid, Marlene Kuser, and Amanda Sullivan.
“We were particularly drawn to this project and this population because art is the ultimate means of self-expression,” Sullivan said. “Some of the project participants have limited verbal skills. It’s been enriching to us to help them find their voice through art.”
WFU Humanities Institute Director Mary Foskett also welcomed the attendees and identified the project as a testament to the institute’s commitment to building partnerships with the public community outside Wake Forest.
The opening was one of the best-attended the Sawtooth School has ever had, and the exhibit is on view through November 14th (251 N. Spruce St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101).