Collaborative Art International

Talents and interests made visible.

Collaborative Art Residencies:  Connecting community and transforming sheltered workshops into creative spaces.

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Art + Community > Transforming Sheltered Workshops

Transforming Sheltered Workshops

We stand proudly with programs ready to rethink the traditional sheltered workshop model.  Check out these successful organizations that introduced innovative programming and creative spaces into the lives of the people they serve.

Highland County 

Hillsboro, Ohio | 2013

Two week residency exploring, drawing, painting, textiles and wood. First we designated a dedicated space and set up the studio. Space, materials and the invitation to investigate were offered to the participants and people enthusiastically jumped in making art and we had a blast. 

The agency was interested in developing innovative programming and were very pleased with participation and engagement. Artworks were installed on the outside of the building, entrance to County Board office, High Co.’s main office and the program’s activity area. 

Staff member Jordan is now the Studio Coordinator and the studio is named “Up and Away Studio”. They sold over $1,000 at their first sale two weeks following the residency. 


Cranston, Rhode Island | 2013

This site was looking for new opportunities for their participants and investigating interests and alternative employment options beyond the culture of the traditional workshop. 

We carved out a creative space within the sheltered workshop area and prepared materials for people to explore. We openly responded to the interests, ideas and enthusiasm of the participants and staff. Our desire was to create a welcoming space where people felt supported and comfortable to explore their personal interests within a communal environment. This fun, energetic space attracted lots of participation and encouraged the participants to design their own programming. Each person had the opportunity to investigate their own ideas and approach. Because there was no expectation or predetermined outcome (as with craft projects) this approach encouraged self direction while working within the comfort of a group.

This process created visual evidence of the interests and talents of the participants. The administration was thrilled. AccessPoint continues to offer arts programming and intends to expand opportunities at their other centers.

Hope Studios

Alaska | 2006 - 2012

In 2006 my dream was to visit Alaska. I imagined going, had the desire/passion...and it happened. My second passion: sharing ideas. While in Anchorage I gave a public presentation at the Out North Contemporary Art House about designing programming through the creative process. What if people were invited to investigate materials, follow their own interests and create in a communal/friendly setting....What might happen? I know that amazing things happen for anyone who gives themselves permission to explore, connect and celebrate their creative spirit - to get to know and identify themselves as creative beings.  How would this approach work with people who experience developmental challenges? What if programming responded to the individual and radiated through their vision and interests....what might happen?

Jenny Moore, of Hope Community Resources, was in the audience at that first presentation. She had already been on this path of investigating the arts in her own life and sharing art making opportunities with the people she worked with. The approached described in the presentation resinated in her. Jenny facilitated a residency at Hope Community Resources and I returned to help jump start a creative space within the agency.

The first residency took place in 2008 and it was amazing. Jenny with Hope Resources secured a space, dedicated staff and invited individuals to come participate in the art making. We painted fabric and made large quilted pieces. We visually demonstrated the beauty and talent of the people being served within the organization. Hope Community Resources recognized and responded enthusiastically to this new approach. Since the beginning they have leaned into creating opportunity and celebrating the work of the artists.

Hope Studios began in a small 20’X15’ space and is now housed within a recently purchased school -- with massive studio space, gallery, offices and other areas for additional programming. The artwork has been shown publicly in local restaurants, hospitals, libraries, boutiques. University students are experiencing, first hand, alternative approaches, beautiful works of art that demonstrate the talent and creative genius of the participants and generate an entrance into the larger community for the participants. Once we have the opportunity to see another as a whole, vital, creative, unique being...stereotypes and preconceived notions can no longer stick. These beautiful beings are no longer seen as disabled...disabled?! How could someone with such amazing talent -- demonstrating what they CAN DO be considered disabled? They are Artists, community partners and friends. Attitudes and perspectives shift. The larger community has a place to focus their coming together and opportunities unfold for everyone. We have an innate need for connection -- we are stronger, more confident and happy. The studio invites a positive cultural shift for everyone.

Hope Community Resources recognized the power of this work in Anchorage and then asked if this approach could be introduced in Soldotna, the Mat-Su Valley, Kodiak, Barrow...and it was. During multiple residencies the process of investigation made visible the talent and beauty that already existed in these communities. The art was the vehicle for a shared experience of witnessing their own magic and community spirit.

I am so grateful for Hope Community Resources and Deputy Director Roy Scheller for inviting new approaches, wanting great things for the individuals and supporting staff to dream big.

Flor de Arte

Santiago, Chile | 2010

In 1994 I began working as an Artist-in-Residence through Ohio Arts Council’s Arts Learning Program. Facilitating residencies throughout the state I learned how to organize and focus the art making experiences of hundreds of people into a singular art project. I worked in many different community settings but wherever I went, working with people with perceived disabilities was my passion. More and more of my work became collaborating with people with intellectual and physical challenges. Together we made spectacular works of art, created alternative programming approaches, innovative employment options and community connections. The Ohio Arts Council chose to share this model through their International Exchange Program. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit Chile multiple times facilitating residencies, consulting with product development concepts and making lifelong connections. 

Want to see more Transformed Sheltered Workshops?  Let's Talk. 

© 2013 Collaborative Art International  |  Designed by Colleen Flayler