Experience the Creativity
Here is a past Abilities Expo line-up.
Check back 3 months out to find out what's in store for 2021.
Thanks to Artfully Gifted—our Artist Market sponsor—the area's most celebrated artists with disabilities will feature an eclectic mix of original, unforgettable artistry. From paintings to photos to poetry and more, their amazing works will be available for appreciation and purchase.
Artfully Gifted, Artist Market Sponsor
Artfully Gifted is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports and promotes artists with disabilities. The organization provides an avenue for disabled artists to show and sell their work. Artfully Gifted is currently located at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education at Roosevelt (ICRE-R) in Chicago.
In addition to housing the Artfully Gifted Storefront, ICRE-R offers two programs aimed at improving the independent functioning and facilitating vocational outcomes for people with disabilities. The first program is a residential program for transition-aged youth with physical disabilities; the second program is a day program called the Vocational Initiative Program (VIP) that includes individuals with a wide variety of disabilities, autism, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, as well as physical disabilities. Artfully Gifted works with both programs to provide comprehensive services for artists like the individuals featured at this year`s Expo.
David Farber, Photographer
David's interest in wildlife and nature photography began at the age of 13 and has been his passion for the last 42 years. Not even his 1981 motorcycle accident which left him a triplegic could distract him from one of the great loves of his life. Able only to move his right arm, David shoots photos with the help of a utility frame to hold his camera and sipping tube to take the picture. His one functioning hand never has to leave the focusing ring. David also does all his own processing, mat cutting and frame building. For more information, visit Naturally Farber Photos at www.naturallyfarberphotos.com.
Jerwayne Balentine, Poet
Jerwayne Balentine is a passionate writer and gifted artist. Jerwayne was born in San Diego, California in 1992, and then moved to Chicago as a young boy. At the age of six, he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He uses a power wheelchair and accesses his computer via an adapted mouse and voice-recognition software.
Jerwayne has recently published his second book of poetry, Looking Through the Cracks—Words of Knowledge II. This book follows his first book, Words of Knowledge, published in 2009. Jerwayne has a distinct point of view which he shares in both his art and poetry. He uses his creative ability to send a positive message to people with disabilities, and also shed light on subjects that matter to him.
He wrote his first poem "I Refuse to Go the Way the Wind Blows" in September 2006. Jerwayne also sells his artwork on T-shirts, mouse pads and posters.
Julian Francisco, Kiwi Photography
Julian Francisco Aparicio Gomez is the owner of Kiwi Photography. In the summer of 2005, Julian`s life took a dramatic turn when he suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after an accident involving a car. Through Julian`s willpower and support of his family, he not only regained his ability to walk—he completed high school and graduated from Harrington College of design with a degree in digital photography.
Julian found his passion for photography when he was completing an assignment senior year that required him to dig up a baby portrait of himself. As he combed through his collection of photos, his mind was flooded with emotions and memories. This resonated deeply with Julian. He felt inspired to use photography to help others know where they came from and know where they are going.
Marlena Danice Gamble, Jewelry and Ceramics Artist
Marlena Danice Gamble is an artist. She has been involved with creating and crafting since she was a child. Because of her learning disability, traditional academic activities that showed her talents were difficult for her. Marlena learned to express herself best by using her hands. When she was 12 years old, she took a ceramic class at the Beverly Arts Center. Her grandmother taught her to crochet and, in 2015, she took a jewelry making class.
Her family encouraged her to continue to make more jewelry and, much to her delight, she found that people were interested in buying her creations! As a result, she is starting her own business under the name Artsy Marcey. Her creations consist of custom, handmade jewelry, ceramics and rope scarves.
Taron Parker, Lampshade Artist
Taron Parker, a 20-year-old with an intellectual disability, resides in the Southside of Chicago. Currently enrolled in the Vocational Incubator Program, Taron is committed to doing something positive for his community and becoming a successful business owner.
Since he enjoys using his hands, he decided to design a lampshade for a high school project. To his surprise, his creation was so well-received that people started placing orders with him. Taron knew immediately that he had discovered a new way to make money. His lampshades, beautifully designed with unlimited use of materials, have allowedTaron Parker to take the first step in turning his dream to reality.Pre-Register