Saturday, May 9, 2015

Creatability: A celebration of special art and artists


Billy, representing the YM-YWHA with Guy Giard

Créatability: A celebration of special art and artists

By Wendy Singer

It started with an idea. An idea that had been percolating for years, was solidified over a leisurely  lunch at a popular Cote des Neiges Greek restaurant, and brought to fruition less than one year later.  

We (meaning the folks at The Big Blue Hug, Rekinexion, and Inspirations), often attend expositions and conferences to share what we do, how we can help teachers, caregivers, and families help their loved ones with special needs. But how could we help those individuals directly? Provide people with special needs the opportunity to gain valuable experience while sharing their talents with the public at large? How could we create a paradigm shift of how society views what special needs people can achieve and the role they have in our society?

The answer was created in one single word: Créatability.

Thanks to the vision and hard work of Jason Goldsmith and Lisa Marcovici, the first ever special needs artisan market that Montreal has ever seen was held on May 8, and surpassed all expectations for both organizers and exhibitors.

The event, which was sponsored by Lucy Pires and Sihem Oka from Investors Group, and Inspirations Newspaper, brought 16 artists with varying special needs together to share their talents, and sell their works. Their task for the evening included sharing their artistic process with the public, telling their stories, and selling their works. In return, they received solid work experience that will serve them well in the future, and most certainly at future Créatability events.

Some artists were experienced, others were first-time exhibitors. It was Lama Alabed's first time sharing her beautiful paintings. Her first task learned: how to price her work!

Lama Alabed with her beautiful paintings
Diana Crawford from Light a Dream, a candle making business that promotes their student's understanding of various business and economic principles, spent most of the event hidden in a corner away from her table. She brought students Leanna and Zach along to sell their delightful stock of candles in all shapes and sizes, including cappuccino glasses and cupcakes. 

"The students have excellent work experience in the store, but they are always supervised," shared Crawford. "This is the first time that they've ever been on their own. And in this environment, they are thriving."

In an email exchange that I had with Crawford after the event, she shared the most touching comments: "We met so many amazing people and had such a great time (at Créatability). Just a little aside....because of the enthusiasm and support Zach received for his photographs he has decided to definitely pursue his career in photography. Before this event, praise had been mostly from friends and family,. This time it was from strangers which seemed to help validate his talent and his confidence even more. Both students are somewhat shy or reserved. I had the extreme priviledge, goosebumps and all, to see them really come out of their shells and show off how very capable they are. Thank you for this!!!"

Leanna and Zach at the Light a Dream table
There are few words to describe the joyful feeling in the Rekinexion studio, where the event was held. One could sense change in the air. The over 150 visitors that passed by took their time, got to know one another, appreciated the talent and the courage it takes to share personal works and stories. And artists connected with one another, bonding in their shared accomplishment and experiences.

Kenza from Kenza's Creations and Lucilla Guerrero

Créatability Expo featured other talented artists, including Heidi Vormer (Remrov), who creates stunning hyper photorealistic drawings, Kirk Davidson, a talented painter, and Eli Adams Photography from Vermont. Guests were treated to music by Frank Verpaelst, and Steven Elie Atme.

Adams attends LiHigh School in Vermont, where students are encouraged to spend two days of every week out in the community working with an adult mentor who is an expert in the field that interests them. Adams' passion is photography. Known at 'The Light Hunter', his talent is unquestionable in viewing his exceptional photos. 

"This is Eli's first time leaving Vermont," said Zohara Zarfati, who accompanied Adams from LiHigh to Créatability. " We will go as far as we need to to help our students succeed. Even as far as Canada."

Eli Adams (red t-shirt) with his aunts, and Zohara Zarfati (far right)

Créatability's first event created a solid foundation for its mission for the future. "The vision that drives this endeavor begins with the artisan market and continues long term in supporting any person with an intellectual, developmental or physical disability in finding and maintaining meaningful employment, be it through self-employment or working for others, " shared Goldsmith, Founder of The Big Blue Hug. "I am already planning our next event!"

Thank you to all of our friends, both old and new, who supported us and came out to meet the artists.

To view more photos of the event, visit the Creatability Facebook page. 
If you are interested in learning about future Créatability events, contact 
Visit for more information and a list of the exhibitors.