ENCINITAS — A traveling art exhibition that features collaborative artwork by six young artists with autism and six professional artists makes its way to Encinitas, with an opening event Jan. 3 at Culture Brewing Co.
The Radical Inclusion Traveling Art Exhibition is the brainchild of local author Andrea Moriarty, who’s recent book “Radical Inclusion: What I Learned About Risk, Humility, and Kindness from My Son with Autism,” was written as a call to action to communities to embrace adults with disabilities in areas of their special interest, whether that be baking, music, or art.
“I wanted to show people the call to action that’s in the book,” Moriarty said. “Rather than just sell books I wanted to say, ‘This is what it’s about, let’s show you this in action.’”
Moriarty said that when people with autism are encouraged to pursue their special interests it can become a great way for them to form relationships and engage productively in the community.
The concept of the art show was for each pair to create a collaborative project that celebrates unique perspectives and mutual learning by recognizing the narratives that are produced when different worlds meet to speak the same language. The project surrounds the theme of “community” as a stepping stone for a collective exchange of ideas and experiences.
“Their collaborative piece becomes a visual metaphor for how we’re better together, how that collaboration can happen in communities and what we learn from each other,” she said.
Along with the six collaborative art pieces, each of the 12 artists have one individual piece on display.
The exhibition debuted in August at Sophie’s Gallery in El Cajon. In September it was moved to Revision Gallery in Old Town, in October it was at Water’s Edge Gallery in Ocean Beach and in December it was on display at the Rancho Penasquitos library.
The exhibition continues through next December, with scheduled stops at venues including The Foundry in Carlsbad, the Oceanside Museum of Art, Lux Art Institute in Encinitas, City Hall in Solana Beach and The Church at Rancho Bernardo.
The exhibition remains at each location for a month and then moves on to the next site.
Moriarty said she got the idea for the show after visiting a San Francisco-based studio called Creativity Explored, where artists with developmental disabilities create and sell their work. Moriarty licensed the artwork for the cover of her Radical Inclusion book from an artist there and she went there to drop the book off to him.
“I came home and thought, ‘OK, we need to do something similar to that down here,’ and that was the birth of the idea of the art show.”
Moriarty, who has 25-year-old twins, son Reid, who’s autistic, and daughter Allie, who is a music therapist on the East Coast, has long been an advocate for kids with developmental needs. Her first book is “One Track Mind: 15 Ways to Amplify Your Child’s Special Interest.” She also does parent workshops where she helps parents figure out what their son or daughter’s passion is and how they can best apply it in their lives.
Reid showed an early interest in music and performed on stage for the first time with a band at age 7. He’s released three solo albums and one band album and has performed all over the county, including at The Belly Up Tavern. He also has a podcast called “Talk Time with Reid Moriarty,” where he conducts seven-minute interviews with esteemed guests like the CEO of Trader Joe’s Dan Bane, the head writer and puppeteer of Sesame Street Joey Mazzarino, Grammy award-winning blues musician Keb’ Mo’, and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc.
Reid’s band, Jungle Poppins — named after two of his favorite movies, “Jungle Book” and “Mary Poppins” — is performing at some of the Radical Inclusion art exhibitions, including at Lux Art Institute in Encinitas on May 29.
The art exhibitions are being done with the support of the Synergy Arts Foundation, a nonprofit based in Solana Beach, which supports at-risk and underserved local artists, and Revision Creative Arts Program, a nonprofit in Old Town which provides inclusive access to art, culture, social practice and environmental education through the framework of a creative workspace.
Moriarty said she loves several of the art pieces in the show.
“I love the collaborative pieces because they tell a story,” she said, saying one of her favorites features art work by a non-verbal artist. “His individual work is little digits and numbers that he writes like a code and then their collaborative piece they did together has messages that they pass back and forth to each other. I just love that one because it shows the dialogue.”
The opening event at Culture Brewing is from 5 to 8 p.m. on Jan 3. Some of the artists will be on hand to speak about their work.
Tawny McCray is a native San Diegan and graduate of San Diego State University. She has known she wanted to be a journalist since writing for her Jr. High School newspaper in 1991. She has worked at The Star News in Chula Vista, The San Diego Union Tribune and ABC 10News San Diego. She has recently freelanced for Scripps Ranch News and The Poway Eagle and is a longtime freelancer with creators.com. She is working on authoring books with her twin sister, Nyla. She and her husband have two kids and live in South Park.