I love chatting with people and for different reasons…sometimes I get to learn something new, often I’m inspired, and hopefully I get to help share their story to more people. With Jared…everything applies. To understand how, you have to meet Jared, but I’ll do my best to describe our conversation and portray him exactly how he is. Perfect really in being himself and a positive energy you strongly feel as soon as he walks in to a room.
Jared is a self described artist and attributes that discovery to The Nina Haggerty Centre for the arts. It’s a collective of artists with developmental disabilities. Well, that is the short answer…the real answer could take an entire novel to delve into, but first back to Jared and his story.
Jared tells me he stumbled into The Nina by accident one day…just looking for something to do, but what he found changed his life. He walked in to colour, noise, and happiness. They asked him if he wanted to work on some art…explaining that is what they do there. Jared says he felt sad because he had to tell them he didn’t have any money, but that’s not the currency they ask for at The Nina. They ask for dedication, passion, ambition, and a need to connect with the community. This was a place Jared knew he could afford.
You can’t help but smile when chatting with Jared because he has a joyful cadence to his voice and is truly happy to share why he loves being an artist. Right now, Jared is working on eight different types of art projects from paintings, to sculptures to a life size model of a T-Rex. In his words, The Nina made him feel better and it’s easy to get used to a place where everyone is always nice to you. He’s happy and he has no intention of leaving.
The entire time we are chatting The Nina Haggerty Artistic Director, Paul Freemon is organizing the display of art work they brought to The Creative Hive to display for the month of April. He glances over to see how it’s going and you can see the trust between Jared and Paul, but you feel the respect as soon as Paul joins into our conversation.
More than 200 artists with different disabilities learn from and work with staff at The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. For Paul, it’s about showcasing the artists individual strengths and moving the narrative away from their disability. The time needed for each person is spent repeating fundamentals and the basic structural parts of making art. Paul whole heartedly believes in respecting what each artist can do for themselves or what they can bring on their own…that they are there to help them or teach them do things on their own. It’s important to not just say what you’ve done is good enough, but to provide constructive criticism to help each artist reach their full potential and that in itself is a difficult path to navigate.
The truth is The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts runs programs all week for artists at little to no cost and relies heavily on contributions from the community to keep supplies stocked and staff paid. It’s a facility that doesn’t just create artists, but helps hundreds of Edmontians find worth in what they do and who they are that takes them outside of the definition for being disabled. It’s a place filled with heart and kindness towards others. If you haven’t been I encourage you to go and even more so encourage to support the work they do. We are trying to help here at The Creative Hive with our artist display shelves. They can be rented each month to display your work for $200 and the entire amount will be given to The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts.
This centre helped carve out a new future of Jared Quinney who says telling people he is an artist makes him smile. A smile that I would describe as truly happy.