Twenty-four-year-old Jody Hanna works on one of her creative art projects at Inclusive Arts. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Blind B.C. artist uses fingers for creative vision

Shuswap art studio helps people with special needs express themselves

Thanks to kindness and commitment, 24-year-old Jody Hanna has been able to expand her creative abilities.

Born with optic nerve hypoplasia, Hanna is blind.

A stem cell procedure in early 2012, funded in part through community funding, failed to return Hanna’s sight, but the irrepressible young woman has found a way to use her fingers to “see” her artistic creations come to life at Inclusive Arts on Hudson Avenue.

“This is a small business so I couldn’t offer employment, but I said if she wants to come in and make things, I’ll give her a section to sell her stuff,” says owner Barb Belway of her response to Employment Service Centre job developer Carol Albrecht’s request. “She started one day a week for a couple of hours and now comes in twice a week.”

Hanna has her own little section, with her artist statement on the wall, and sold several items before Christmas.

“She’s super outgoing and friendly and likes chatting with people,” says Belway. “Her things are quite beautiful and intricate; she takes a stretch canvas and applies items to create collages – very mixed media.”

Belway says Hanna’s creations are dependent on her song of the day.

Related: Funds exceed target

“Her very first one was a tribute to Michael Bublé’s It’s a Beautiful Day,” she says. “She took beads, buttons and paper. It’s very tactile and you’re supposed to feel it because it’s Jody’s expression of it.”

With clay donated by Belway, Hanna is making her own buttons and beads in colours she chooses.

“I ask how does it make you feel? That’s the way she chooses, the way she experiences the concept of colour,” Belway says.

“We discuss what would you like the project to feel – cool, wintry or hot summery, of sun and the beach? That’s kind of how I understand she views colour.”

Belway encourages people to support Hanna by buying her various creative pieces of work.

“It’s not a charity; you’re getting something beautiful with a lot of love put into it.”

The store does not take any of the proceeds from Hanna’s work. She takes home 75 per cent of her sales, with the remaining 25 per cent going to the Canadian Institute For the Blind.

For her part, Hanna is happy to report she is no longer bored and, while she likes working with clay, she much prefers her collages.

Related: Blind teen waits for results of stem cell surgery

“They feel good, textured. There’s all sorts of textured things on it, with lines, ridges, stripes, bumps and pom pom balls, puffy bumps, sparkles, grooves and divots,” she says with enthusiasm. “I’ve been staying happy.”

And that encourages Belway, who says a big part of what she does is to offer a place for people with special needs, who are under-represented, to enjoy creating art.

She has clients from Kindale, Shuswap Association for Community Living and Canadian Mental Health who are having fun and developing self-worth through projects that include painting, working with clay, ceramics, handicrafts and making seasonal objects.

“There’s always something you can do.”

Albrecht meanwhile, says Belway is helping people with various barriers and giving them “one more step” to find employment.

“Unless you’ve met Jody and seen her work, it’s hard to know all the things she can do,” Albrecht says, praising Belway for her generosity and willingness to teach Jody new things. “Barb is phenomenal, so giving of herself and her talents.”

Belway, a longtime artist, says she enjoys many aspects of art, including painting, sculpting, stained glass, pottery and drawing.

And anyone can take advantage of the art opportunities available at Inclusive Arts: daytime and evening pottery classes (hand-building and wheel), walk-in ceramic painting, weekly craft/seasonal projects, Kid’s Club, daytime classes for home-schooled kids, Saturday morning kid crafting, coffee and colouring with weekly prizes, along with a coffee and tea bar.

Inclusive Arts is also a gift shop featuring products and works by local artisans, pottery made on-site in the studio, art supplies, art colouring books, jewelry and novelties.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Jody Hanna gets a great deal of satisfaction in creating beads and her richly textured art projects. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

District looking for public input on cycling plan

Survey is open to the public until May 25

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Flooding highly unlikely this year throughout Skeena watershed

Region’s snowpack among lowest in the province

Cameras and convoys: Graduation in the age of COVID-19

Schools in Terrace and Kitimat are thinking outside the box to give students a graduation ceremony

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Still a lot of work to do to fully connect regional district

Draft strategy shows dependence on on single fibre optic cable route, poor cellular service on roads

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

Most Read