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Arts | July 22nd, 2015

Zot Artz Conference encourages artists of all abilities to add a little color to the landscape

On July 27, Wisconsin-based artist and engineer Dwayne Szot, who is also president and and founder of Zot Artz, will be contributing a splash of color to the North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind in Grand Forks.

The Anne Carlsen Center, based in Jamestown, N.D., is teaming up with the NDVS (ND Vision Services), NDCA (North Dakota Council on the Arts) and the North Dakota branch of the VSA (a state organization on arts and disability) to present a conference that will introduce tools, materials and techniques that will offer a unique art experience to individuals of various abilities and art levels.

Dwayne Szot grew up in a foster home in the Midwest, and he had a foster brother and sister who both had cerebral palsy while a few others in the home also had disabilities. According to the Zot Artz website, “Szot observed and respected the special challenges they faced. He credits that experience for giving him the courage and motivation to create the painting wheelchair.”

As a youth Szot spent much time wrenching and fixing machines with his foster father. He developed a love of machines. Combine this with a love of art and a nurturing spirit, and Zot Artz was born.

The conference will consist of printmaking with various tools such as pogo poles, rollers and tabletop devices. The pogo pole, a tool created by Zot Artz, can be handheld or attached to a wheelchair clamp, allowing artists to make their mark on walls or floors. Participants will even create their own t-shirt design with the above-mentioned tools. Another demonstration is of a push-handle chalk drawer, which can easily attach to wheelchairs. Smaller versions will be available for early childhood participants.

Art rollers for mural painting are also a favorite among conference goers. The art rollers can be pushed or attached to a wheelchair bridge or walker. For this activity, a sheet of paper covers the floor of the gym while artists of all abilities participate to create a beautiful, large-scale mural.

“It will be bursting with action-packed fun to engage kids in the ultimate learning experience and promising to be filled with art and fun for all ages and abilities!” Szot said.

Though the Zot Conference may be a special event, the VSA is an international organization that has a branch in North Dakota. The North Dakota branch is constantly on the lookout for resident artists throughout the state.

According to VSA ND executive director Linda Olsrud, “Our classes are inclusive, meaning we encourage people with and without disabilities to create together. Some of our classes are in disability specific sites: Anne Carlsen Center, Community Options, Inc., Manchester House, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch; some are in schools or at camps.”

The VSA was founded in 1975 by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith (who also happens to be the last living sibling of JFK).

“Apparently she and a friend were chatting over coffee and she came up with the idea to do something similar to what her sister, Eunice Shriver Kennedy, had done with Special Olympics,” said Olsrud. “So what Eunice did for sports, Ambassador Smith did for the arts. She wanted to make the arts (education and experiences) accessible to all people, including and especially those who have disabilities.”

IF YOU GO:

Zot Artz Conference

Mon, July 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

North Dakota Vision Services/School, 500 Stanford Road #A Grand Forks, N.D.

http://annecarlsen.org/zots-artz-workshop-registration/

http://www.vsanorthdakota.net/

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