Art Ability Sneak Peek

Art Ability Sneak Peek

Throughout the year, Good Neighbor features members of the Main Line community whose contributions make a difference.

MainLine Neighbors is happy to give shout outs to local Art Ability volunteer Claire Larson, Newtown Square and artist Mimi Barclay Johnson, Haverford. Their efforts support Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital’s annual Art Ability program. This international juried exhibition and sale, created and implemented by Lois Levy in 1994, encourages those living with disabilities in our community to receive formal recognition for their creativity. In addition to advancing their artistic success, 80% of Art Ability sales and commissions benefit the artists.

This year’s exhibition and sale begins with a preview party on November 2 and the show continues through January 26. It features 453 artworks, sculpture and jewelry by 186 artists from 30 states and 6 countries.  Bryn Mawr Rehab acquired and displays over 300 Art Ability objects through the year and Art Ability artists are included in major corporate art collections.

Claire and Mimi respond to a few questions about themselves and Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospitals’ Art Ability Program:

Volunteer Claire Larson, Newtown Square: 
Is there a particular moment or experience that made you most proud of the program?
Each year, the most exciting moment for me is the opening night of the annual art exhibition. At our Preview Party, artists join the festivities and have an opportunity to meet each other as well as patrons and guests. Hands down, the experience of serving as an artist liaison and being witness to artists realization that their artwork has been sold, is the most rewarding experience for me. They take such pride in their artwork and I love the opportunity to experience their joy.

Have any of the artists become personal friends through the years?
I have a unique connection to Art Ability artist Sal Panasci of Berywn because we volunteer together in horticultural therapy and we are both former patients on the brain injury unit at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. Sal and I both share a love of Art Ability.

How long have you been involved with Art Ability?
In 2002, I was an inpatient at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital after suffering from a brain aneurism and stroke. After months of intensive therapy, I started volunteering at the hospital in 2004. Thirteen years ago, I started volunteering with Art Ability and joined the committee. I currently volunteer at the hospital three days a week in many roles: patient transport, horticultural therapy, and Art Ability.

Artist Mimi Barclay Johnson, Haverford:
What motivates you to create artwork?
I am motivated by the beauty I see everywhere and want to share that beauty not only through my own paintings but by inspiring others to see and create. I am still motivated to teach and help others by conducting watercolor workshops.  When I paint, I become absorbed in my work and somehow don’t feel the pain. Not feeling pain can be motivating. There is still a lot to do and that motivates me. Painting is fun and full of color, like life. It is a gift for which I am truly grateful, and I must live to be 150 to accomplish all I want to do.

What do you like about participating in the Art Ability exhibit?
Participating in the Art Ability exhibit makes me feel I am not alone and that encourages me. The Art Ability team goes out of its way to promote disabled artists by showing the creative contributions of these artists to the world and in doing so, gives each artist a sense of worth.

Art Ability –  Exhibition and Sale
Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital 
414 Paoli Pike, Malvern
Information: 484-596-5607
Art Ability preview party and exhibition information: