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Artistic opportunities for adults with disabilities

May 1, 2012
By STEPHEN ANDERSON - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

CALUMET - Thanks to several local partnerships, adults with disabilities have more artistic opportunities than ever available locally.

The Copper Country affiliate of VSA Michigan, The State Organization on Arts and Disability, has been providing in-depth weekly art classes for local adults with disabilities since 1992, and this year they're expanding their opportunities at the Calumet Art Center.

"We first started this class at the Copper Country Community Arts Center and we met every week, very consistently for 19 years," said Susan Burack, representing the VSA's Copper Country affiliate. "This is the first time the class has gone out to (the Calumet Art Center)."

Article Photos

Stephen Anderson/Daily Mining Gazette
Veteran local artist Ed Gray from the Calumet Art Center works with students from the Copper Country affiliate of VSA Michigan, The State Organization on Arts and Disability, during their weekly art class at the center on Monday evening.

The VSA also partners with Oak House, Inc., a nonprofit community housing alternative that promotes self-sufficiency for adults with disabilities. That partnership has fostered creative opportunities such as those at the art center.

Ed Gray, a full-time studio artist for 55 years, is teaching the weekly VSA class Monday nights from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in April and May, with projects mostly focused on working with clay.

"Ed is so wonderful with this population. He really works well with them," Burack said. "They don't get very many opportunities to be creative. When they do have the chance to be creative, they're no different from anybody else. It's really wonderful to see the artwork they produce."

Gray has been teaching classes at the Calumet Art Center since it opened three years ago in the former First Presbyterian Church in downtown Calumet, and he teaches those with disabilities the same way he teaches other community classes.

"I don't change my teaching whether they're challenged or not," said Gray, whose artistic background includes being director of the Vertin Gallery in downtown Calumet. "I watch and talk and get to know them.

"The VSA classes have been going excellent,"?he added. "It's really a great class because it gives me the opportunity to see what the needs are from each individual student."

For more information on the Copper Country's VSA affiliate, visit or call Burack at 482-3270. For more information on the Calumet Art Center, visit or call 906-281-3494.

For more information on Oak House, Inc., visit or call 482-4231.



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