On display in the hallway art gallery of the Honest Weight Food Co-op are twenty select works of art from eight individual artists, all participants in the local Studio e art group. This latest exhibit, sponsored by the Honest Arts Committee, has been on display since early May, with a grand opening reception held on May 12. Art instructor Heather Hutchison, director of studio C.R.E.A.T.E. at 137 State St. in Schenectady, brings this show together for us.
We have Honest Weight staff baker, artist and Co-op member Stephen Piorkowski to thank for dreaming up this exhibit. Stephen participated in the Honest Arts Committee’s first show with his work entitled “Hands.”
Stephen then suggested the current show and introduced the Committee to Studio e: The Epilepsy Art Therapy Program.
Studio e, a cooperative program with the American Art Therapy Association and the Epilepsy Foundation, with funding from Lundbeck, is a multi-week art program open to people with epilepsy in areas throughout the U.S. Participants of all skill levels are given the opportunity to creatively express themselves and their emotions through making and reflecting on art. Living with epilepsy can be challenging, and this art program has proven beneficial in working through the conditions of epilepsy that impact an individual’s life. Family members of those with epilepsy are also welcome to become involved.
The program has been providing art therapy services for adults with epilepsy since 2012. Stephen participates in the Studio e group led by Heather Hutchison at regular art therapy sessions held twice a month, from February through November. One of each of those monthly meetings is held right here at the Co-op.
An article in the May/June 2018 issue of the Coop Scoop highlights the legacy of baking in Stephen’s family, his own creative baking skills, and his work as an advocate for those with epilepsy. It describes the scholarship Stephen created at Schenectady County Community College, The Stephen Piorkowski Epilepsy Scholarship. This scholarship is available to eligible students of SCCC who are or have been affected by epilepsy, including family members of those with epilepsy.
After the initial contacts for the art exhibit were made by Stephen, the Honest Arts Committee met with Gwennan Booth, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. The Northeastern New York chapter serves 22 counties in New York State with services that include linking members and family members with Service Coordinators to help access treatment and counseling, and teen and adult support groups.
To prepare for the gala opening on May 12, Gwennan sent out e-mail blasts and made contact with all of the local TV news stations as well as several local radio stations. Gwennan made this opening quite an incredible success.
Heather Hutchison, a NYS Licensed Creative Arts Therapist and Board-Certified Art Therapist, was hired by the Epilepsy Foundation to run the local chapter of the Studio e program. Heather has been in private practice for eight years with more than twelve years in the fields of Mental Health and Art Therapy at various community art locations. She received her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and Art Therapy from Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado. While Heather specializes in counseling and creative arts therapies with children and families, she has worked with all persons of all ages and developmental levels, including those on the autism spectrum and those with physical disabilities and dementia. Heather believes that, through art, people can overcome struggles to reach their fullest potential.
The Honest Arts Committee is grateful to Stephen for his work with Heather, and to Gwennan who brought the show and the opening night reception together. The Co-op community is blessed to have such a wonderful collaboration.
The show will be open through the end of June. Please take a moment to come to the Honest Arts Gallery in the back hallway of the Co-op by the Community Room to admire the art of the Studio e group!
All of the original art is for sale. Proceeds will be donated to the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York. Scroll down to see some of the pieces and bios of the artists.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern NY, please visit: http://www.epilepsy.com/northeastern-new-york. To find out more information about Studio e or any of the artwork featured, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bobby Batty began making art several years ago when he began participating in Studio e. He draws and makes cut paper collages. Much of his art is inspired by his experiences in life, including traveling and his experiences with having TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Bobby had partial complex/petit mal seizures that began when he was five years old and led to him having brain surgery at twenty. He has been seizure-free for sixteen years, since his surgery.
Emily Brown has been making art since she was a child. She says, “I like making art because it makes me happy. My favorite is sketching still life, little things in front of me.” Emily has had partial complex seizures since she was six years old, that resulted from a brain injury that affects her almost daily.
A’jiana Carr has been making art since she was a child. She says making art makes her “happy.” Her artwork is inspired by people, shapes, and colors. A’jiana deals with absence seizures that affect her regularly.
Maria Indelicato has been making art off and on throughout her life, but began tapping into her artist self since joining Studio e several years ago. She’s used her artwork to process her struggles and emotions that go along with her epilepsy. She’s inspired by life experiences and nature. Maria has had seizures since she was a child, and they continue to affect her on a regular basis.
Marcie March began making art with Studio e several years ago. She says, “I enjoy painting because it calms me down, relaxes me and makes me happy.” Marcie was born with epilepsy and has generalized tonic-clonic seizures (aka grand mal seizures), which are controlled through medication.
Samantha Mayo has been drawing and making art since she was a child. She says, “I like making art because it helps me keep the anxiety away and not be as stressed. My grandfather was a big inspiration to me.” Sam began having seizures when she was a teenager, but has been seizure-free for two years.
Stephen Piorkowski has been an artist his whole life. In addition to visual art, Stephen is also a poet and musician. Art is a form of a communication for him. He says, “I have lived my whole life with epilepsy. My way of connecting with others is helping others with disabilities through the toughest parts of their lives.” Stephen began having petit mal and absence seizures as a child after a bout of German measles. Then, in adulthood, grand mal seizures resulted from a brain injury. He has been seizure-free for six years.
Amanda Stickney is a long time artist and ceramicist. Her artwork in Studio e has ranged from watercolors to mixed media to sculpture. She is inspired by human and environmental interdependencies, spiritual health and emotional growth. Amanda has had complex partial epilepsy since she was a teenager.