The Parrish Art Museum is dedicated to serving all members of the community. Along with their wonderful exhibits and events, they also offer monthly programs enabling those with special needs to participate in art. There are programs for school students, young children and adults. Active partners with the Parrish include the Southampton and Hampton Bays schools Life Skills classes, East End Disability Associates, the Flying Point Foundation for Autism, the Southampton Fresh Air Home, The Retreat, New Hour for Women, and Long Island and Suffolk County Corrections. Hamptons.com recently spoke with Deputy Director of Arts Education Martha Stozky and Museum Educator Wendy Gottlieb about the special needs programs.
The goal of all the community programs is to enable everyone to have fun with art materials. These programs at the Parrish are a way into inner creativity for people with various challenges. They’re stress-free, expressive rather than tutorial. The aim is for everyone to have fun with art materials. They’re social events, too — some people have been attending them for years –they’re enjoying the process and making friends. During Covid these programs were offered on Zoom, and they are still available there.
There are online tours and workshops for groups of adults and children. Here are some of the programs offered.
High school students can attend a Life Skills class, where they learn skills like how to go shopping and how to do laundry. Students can continue to attend the class until they’re 21. Young people with developmental disabilities or autism can attend a class that begins with a visit to the Parrish gallery exhibits, then a return to the classroom to make art related to the exhibit they saw.
Paint with the Parrish Online is a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. PD Paint with the Parrish Online is for those with Parkinson’s disease and is offered through the Stony Brook Center for Parkinson’s Disease. Participants go into the galleries to see and discuss the current exhibit (questions are encouraged), then head back to the classroom and create a piece of art inspired by the exhibit. Art projects are tailored to each person’s needs — for example, someone who may have trouble holding a paintbrush can work with soft, moldable materials instead. One material they use is Model Magic, a product made by Crayola that’s similar to Play-Doh; it can be cut, colored, molded. Participants may paint, draw, make a collage or other piece, depending on their abilities. For these programs, caregivers and family members come along and also make art.
Martha explained that The Parrish believes that “Art can make people’s lives better as they age.” Their goal is to engage the entire community in art. And the adult programs continue to expand. Stony Brook Hospital has asked the museum to collaborate on an art program for cancer patients, their families and caregivers.