Lansing Art Gallery Offers Inclusive Home Art Program


The Lansing Art Gallery has relaunched its Art Has No Barriers program with a monthly home project for people with disabilities.

Program participants are given a take-out bag filled with pre-cut construction paper, glue, and other items that can be used to create an art project.

A similar program, called Art Has No Barriers, ran from 2017 to 2019. It brought people with disabilities together on Saturdays to create a hands-on project with artist Catherine Tonning-Popowich. It was funded by a grant from the Greater Lansing Arts Council.

The pandemic has posed a challenge for the disabled community. “Families are increasingly isolated,” said Janice Frankovich, and social events have been called off.

Frankovich’s 24-year-old son Jared has Down syndrome and has relied on in-person art classes to thrive in Jared’s social life. Following his end in 2019, Jared spent more time with his brother Matt creating art projects at home or playing games.

Frankovich called on Catherine Blatnik, of the Mid-Michigan Autism Association and All Faith Ministry for People with Disabilities, to an update on classes.

“She went out and started this bag of artistic ability,” Frankovich said.

The themes of the Art Ability bags accompany the months in which they are distributed. The November Bag asked why people are thankful. December is a greeting card with a snowman.

Registered attendees are encouraged to come to the Art Gallery at 119 N. Washington Square at pre-determined times and wait for masked staff to place bags in trunks or in the back seats.

December bags can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 12 at the art gallery.

Michelle Carlson, director of education at the art gallery, said the art gallery is holding project collections in hopes of eventual return of an in-person activity.

“It is a possibility to do both in the future and it will depend on the state of the world and the funding as the supplies are expensive,” she said.

Creating a take-out project wasn’t on Blatnik’s radar before the pandemic, but she and the autism association asked Tonning-Popowich how best to reach people safely.

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Tonning-Popowich designed the November and December bags.

The November plan was to create a thank-you wreath. Jared Frankovich “was in it and it was a good half hour to 45 minutes,” said Janice Frankovich.

Mum Janice Frankovich signed with her 24-year-old son Jared to create a thank you wreath for the November art project

The activity energized the attendees, Carlson said, and gave them an “alternate voice they can’t express.”

The gallery accepts donations for bags. The suggested amount is $ 5 cash. Entries are available on the art gallery’s website,

The projects are meant to be an easy task and a token of appreciation for the disability community, Carlson said, and this gives people with disabilities the opportunity to be creative.

A link to an instructional YouTube video is included in the instructions. Intern Sam Carter guides participants through the month’s project and shows what the end result might look like.

The December project will be a greeting card with the phrase “Let it snow” and a DIY snowman. Tonning-Popowich said people have the freedom to position their snowman. The directions can be changed to suit the desires of the artists.

“They can have the snowman standing on their heads if they want to,” she added. “I even have a glue stick in there, so they don’t need to use anything from them. If they want to have it stained themselves, they can. If they want to. make it shiny or make it look some other way they are free to do it.

The bags are expected to continue until at least May. Collaborators hope to introduce an in-person lesson when attendees can meet safely and funding continues.

“[Jared] seems to take some pride in maintaining their self-esteem and hopefully we get to Zoom with someone else and add the social aspect, ”Frankovich added.[I’m] I can’t wait for him to be proud of something and share it with his favorite person, his brother Matt. “

Contact reporter Krystal Nurse at (517) 290-3044 or [email protected] Follow her on twitter @KrystalRNurse.


Kayleen C. Rice