Gretchen Charlton Art Gallery features creative collaborations

Gretchen Charlton Art Gallery's newest exhibition, "Social Practice," opened Saturday and runs through Sept. 29. Visitors are free to view the artwork every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the gallery's location inside of the Presence Heritage Village in Kankakee. Works featured in the exhibition are creative collaborations between residents of the Heritage Village and artists working with the Merchant Street Art Gallery of Artists with Autism. 

The newest exhibition at the Gretchen Charlton Art Gallery is a colorful collaboration.

“Social Practice,” which opened Saturday and runs through Sept. 29, is a collaboration with artists from the Merchant Street Art Gallery of Artists with Autism.

Both galleries are located in Kankakee, though both serve vastly different participants. The Gretchen Charlton gallery is located inside of the Presence Heritage Village, an independent living facility, and the Merchant Street gallery works with those on the autism spectrum of nearly all age groups.

Victoria Strole, director of the Gretchen Charlton gallery, and Janice Miller, director of the Merchant Street gallery, decided to bring their two groups of community members together on a shared platform.

“It’s called ‘Social Practice’ because it helps the [Merchant Street] artists gain social and communication skills that they need to be more employable, and it works on the residents’ wellbeing,” Strole told the Daily Journal.

From June 7 to shortly prior to the exhibition’s opening date, the residents of the Heritage Village worked alongside Merchant Street participants to create unique art pieces.

“Through collaborative efforts with art, we are building social, communication and art skills, and learning more about ourselves and each other,” Strole said in a news release.

“Our artists have taught the residents to work in clay and create fish, frogs, butterflies, flowers, etc.,” Miller said. “Our artists also taught them how to create butterflies out of origami. Both groups worked side by side to create a variety of creatures and flowers.”

Along with works created by Heritage Village residents, some works by Merchant Street gallery artists also will be on display.

The exhibition is free to visitors every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Sept. 29.

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