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Program Spotlight: Artability

Sep 22, 2023

The Artability program provides free art workshops both internally in People Incorporated’s residential and treatment programs and externally to community members who identify as having a mental illness. Each October, the program culminates in an art show for the public to promote mental health in the community, at which participating artists have the opportunity to showcase and sell their artwork. Not only does Artability provide a space for participants to tap into the creativity within themselves, but it presents art as a powerful tool for self-expression, healing, personal growth, and fun.

In 2023, the Artability program has experienced exciting transformations. Along with new community workshop locations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul – in addition to internal workshops hosted at 11 People Incorporated program sites – the program has an entirely new roster of teaching artists. These nine new instructors bring with them fresh ideas, new classes and opportunities for clients, and increased visibility to the program. Many of this year’s class topics, ranging from Jewelry Making to Adult Fingerpainting to 3D Needle Felting, have never been offered before.

Among these new classes are a select few offered in George Floyd Square, just a few blocks away from People Incorporated’s newest hybrid crisis and intensive residential treatment services (IRTS) program. These monthly workshops are child- and family-focused and have so far focused on torn paper collages and acrylic paints. In October and November, attendees will learn about Dadaist poems and Shrinky Dinks.

Our primary goal with offering these is to help contribute to the healing of a community that has experienced a lot of pain,” said Tessa Weyhe, Artability Coordinator and Lead Teaching Artist. “It’s a vibrant, inspired, and art-centric neighborhood, and I think this program will complement that area nicely. We’re hoping to introduce more family-friendly workshops to get children involved.”

In addition to a revamped program, the annual Artability Art Show & Sale brings with it some positive and innovative updates.

For the first time, staff will be awarding one artist with the Newcomer Award, which is available to artists who are submitting artwork for the first time. Along with this award, submissions will be eligible to win Best Creative Writing, Best Painting, Best Drawing, Best Photograph, Best Sculpture, Best Mixed Media, and Best in Show. We are also excited to offer again the Melissa Lewis scholarship, an award decided on by a BIPOC judge that goes to a female emerging artist of color.

At this year’s show, attendees will also notice a digital portfolio component. Each art piece will be accompanied by a QR code, and upon scanning it, you will be able to read more about the artist’s inspiration and background, along with access to a digital gallery of the rest of their featured creations.

Weyhe has been a teaching artist with People Incorporated for around five years, and she currently teaches 11 groups each week. Teaching keeps “playfulness and curiosity and creativity alive,” and she brings this energy into all other parts of her work in the Artability program. She has ambitious goals for its future.

“I want to provide these services to as many people as we possibly can,” said Weyhe. “This is such an asset to the community, and I don’t know any other programs who are doing anything like it. We aren’t trying to sell or promote anything, we’re simply trying to give people an option that provides comfort, growth, creativity, visibility, and social environments.”

Mark your calendar so you don’t miss the 2023 Artability Art Show & Sale, which is free and open to the public, on October 27th and 28th at the Union Depot in Saint Paul. You can learn more about the event by visiting the Artability page on our website.