Artist Gene Hughes doesn't believe in stereotyping, and he has devoted the past two years to proving that the developmentally disabled are not only part of the community, but part of the arts community.
An art exhibit held Friday afternoon at the Frost Yasmer Building on East Fifth Street featured the work of 10 students who live there.
"I don't like the stereotypes that they can't do this or they can't do that, because they can. I have a voice through my art, and I've found that they can have a voice and create beautiful works of art if you are patient and pay attention to their sensibilities and be firm," Hughes said.
"You would not believe how sensitive they are to other people's feelings, and I try to encourage them to share their feelings through their art," he said.
Hughes, who drives to Carson City once a week from Reno, is originally from Chicago. He has been teaching art for 20 years, but has devoted an hour and a half every week for nearly three years to teaching different art mediums and styles to some of the residents of the Holdsworth Inc. facility.
"This exhibit is a celebration of artistic talent," Hughes said. "I hope it's a validation that these artists are a part of the community."
For the show, Hughes selected from an accumulation of work from the class. He picked some to mat and some to frame for the Friday show.
"I encourage them to try different mediums and to follow their own style," he said.
A number of friends and family members joined the artists during the reception.
Terri Garlan showed her two paintings of a quail done in watercolor and Dalmatians done in mixed mediums.
"I did these a few months ago," Garlan said. "It helps me with my hands."
Liz Rough showed her painting of horses.
"I've been doing it for years. It helps me to relax," she said.
Ingrid Stearns said she created her white shark using pastels and chalk.
"I did it all by myself. The skills and learning are really educational, and I enjoy learning," Stearns said.
Hughes said he has enjoyed this class so much, he is planning to start another class with another organization soon.
Holdsworth Inc., located in Carson City, provides individualized support for people with intellectual disabilities living independently in a residential facility.
VSA Nevada is a state organization on arts and disability. Its mission is to provide quality arts opportunities for all, focusing on children and adults who have a disability, are disadvantaged, at-risk or under-served.