Twenty-four-year-old Jody Hanna works on one of her creative art projects at Inclusive Arts. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Blind B.C. artist uses fingers for creative vision

Shuswap art studio helps people with special needs express themselves

Thanks to kindness and commitment, 24-year-old Jody Hanna has been able to expand her creative abilities.

Born with optic nerve hypoplasia, Hanna is blind.

A stem cell procedure in early 2012, funded in part through community funding, failed to return Hanna’s sight, but the irrepressible young woman has found a way to use her fingers to “see” her artistic creations come to life at Inclusive Arts on Hudson Avenue.

“This is a small business so I couldn’t offer employment, but I said if she wants to come in and make things, I’ll give her a section to sell her stuff,” says owner Barb Belway of her response to Employment Service Centre job developer Carol Albrecht’s request. “She started one day a week for a couple of hours and now comes in twice a week.”

Hanna has her own little section, with her artist statement on the wall, and sold several items before Christmas.

“She’s super outgoing and friendly and likes chatting with people,” says Belway. “Her things are quite beautiful and intricate; she takes a stretch canvas and applies items to create collages – very mixed media.”

Belway says Hanna’s creations are dependent on her song of the day.

Related: Funds exceed target

“Her very first one was a tribute to Michael Bublé’s It’s a Beautiful Day,” she says. “She took beads, buttons and paper. It’s very tactile and you’re supposed to feel it because it’s Jody’s expression of it.”

With clay donated by Belway, Hanna is making her own buttons and beads in colours she chooses.

“I ask how does it make you feel? That’s the way she chooses, the way she experiences the concept of colour,” Belway says.

“We discuss what would you like the project to feel – cool, wintry or hot summery, of sun and the beach? That’s kind of how I understand she views colour.”

Belway encourages people to support Hanna by buying her various creative pieces of work.

“It’s not a charity; you’re getting something beautiful with a lot of love put into it.”

The store does not take any of the proceeds from Hanna’s work. She takes home 75 per cent of her sales, with the remaining 25 per cent going to the Canadian Institute For the Blind.

For her part, Hanna is happy to report she is no longer bored and, while she likes working with clay, she much prefers her collages.

Related: Blind teen waits for results of stem cell surgery

“They feel good, textured. There’s all sorts of textured things on it, with lines, ridges, stripes, bumps and pom pom balls, puffy bumps, sparkles, grooves and divots,” she says with enthusiasm. “I’ve been staying happy.”

And that encourages Belway, who says a big part of what she does is to offer a place for people with special needs, who are under-represented, to enjoy creating art.

She has clients from Kindale, Shuswap Association for Community Living and Canadian Mental Health who are having fun and developing self-worth through projects that include painting, working with clay, ceramics, handicrafts and making seasonal objects.

“There’s always something you can do.”

Albrecht meanwhile, says Belway is helping people with various barriers and giving them “one more step” to find employment.

“Unless you’ve met Jody and seen her work, it’s hard to know all the things she can do,” Albrecht says, praising Belway for her generosity and willingness to teach Jody new things. “Barb is phenomenal, so giving of herself and her talents.”

Belway, a longtime artist, says she enjoys many aspects of art, including painting, sculpting, stained glass, pottery and drawing.

And anyone can take advantage of the art opportunities available at Inclusive Arts: daytime and evening pottery classes (hand-building and wheel), walk-in ceramic painting, weekly craft/seasonal projects, Kid’s Club, daytime classes for home-schooled kids, Saturday morning kid crafting, coffee and colouring with weekly prizes, along with a coffee and tea bar.

Inclusive Arts is also a gift shop featuring products and works by local artisans, pottery made on-site in the studio, art supplies, art colouring books, jewelry and novelties.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Jody Hanna gets a great deal of satisfaction in creating beads and her richly textured art projects. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Just Posted

View inside BC Hydro's Discovery Centre.
BC Hydro Discovery Centre reopening

Public can once again visit displays on way to Elk Falls

Pat McKenna, Habitat VIN's executive director and Alli Epp, Comox Valley Community engagement manager in front of Design Therapy, one of almost 200 businesses contributing to Bid to Build. Karen McKinnon Photo.
‘#BidToBuild’ auction launching to support affordable housing

Auction builds on last year’s successful effort, with new twists

Hope Rocks at the Campbell River Art Gallery highlighting local linguistic diversity.
Paint a rock to celebrate diversity

Hope Rocks highlighting linguistic diversity in Campbell River

Reflective number or design on hoodie. Police are seeking help in identifying three youth involved in an incident on Soderholm Road early June 12. Photo courtesy Campbell River RCMP
Do you know where your kids were at 1:24 a.m.?

Campbell River RCMP seeking help identifying three youths

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

Most Read