Kathleen Johnson

New opportunity for Artists with Disabilities

By Kathleen Johnson, 2015-09-01

Late in 1979 I was hired by the Wisconsin Disability Coalition, a cross disability advocacy organization that had a grant to do education and training in region 5 on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. I knew nothing about disability but I had experience as the Off-campus Programs Coordinator at the University of Guam and a degree in Communication from the University of Wisconsin so I accepted the challenge. While working there I met an amazing man, fell madly in love and we began all kinds of new adventures, including being Foster Parents for 10 years and Adopting 6 of our former foster children. During those years I realized that even though services existed for kids with disabilities, many just slipped through the gaps in eligibility. I dreamed of creating an organization where people with disabilities could build community and life skills while expressing their creativity. Life is short so . . . Indigo Wings Incorporated opened the door on its Gallery, Gift Shop and Studio on August 17, 2015. The facilities are located at 4601 Monona Drive, Suite 102.

Indigo Wings is a 501(c )(3) organization founded to help people with disabilities become more financially and vocationally independent through the expression of their creative abilities. The new corporation provides Studio space for artists to create in an environment that includes mentoring and classes. There are a number of artists already signed up but there is always room for more. We are also looking for individuals who are willing to share their talents by mentoring or teaching classes. The website at www.indigowingsinc.com as well as the email indigowingsinc@gmail.com can provide additional information for interested artists, mentors and teachers.

One goal of the new corporation is to provide an environment that is community oriented so that people can work alone or in groups to explore new avenues of creative expression. Another goal is to offer a chance to make money through the sale of these creations in our Gallery and Gift Shop. Many individuals with disabilities live at or below the poverty level and the launch of Indigo Wings coincides with the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act for that very reason. Progress has been made, to be sure, but employment is still far behind the national average. According to US Department of Labor statistics, 80% of people with disabilities want to work, but less than 18% are employed.

The Gallery and Studio will be open from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday and 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday. The class schedule will be as flexible as possible depending on the subject and the needs of both teacher and students.

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