May 22, 2002
Work of award-winning artists with disabilities to tour state
By Collin Johnson
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Award-winning artwork from this year’s Goodwill Art Show will be on display in Mississippi museums.
The top three winners in the adult and student divisions will have their artwork shown in a special exhibit at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs and other museums across the state have expressed an interest in displaying their work.
At the 14th annual event, held at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, disabled artists from all over Mississippi entered nearly 300 pieces of art and competed for prizes. The overall winner, Betty Jane Chatham of Starkville, received a $1,000 award and disabled student winners split a $250 purse.
Joy Jones, of Pearl, won honorable mention and $50 for her painting, “My Trip To Italy: Portafino.” A volunteer at Methodist Rehab, she contributed two paintings to the exhibit.
Jones is a late-bloomer. She set out to learn to paint after retirement gave her the time to really enjoy it. “I took lessons from Dianne Norman and I’ve been painting for six years now,” she said.
Jones suffers from polymyositis, which is characterized by muscle inflammation and degeneration. About five out of 10,000 are affected, but women are twice as likely as men to contract the disorder. The disorder has left Jones unable to do many ordinary tasks, but she still paints.
Through art, Jones has reclaimed her life bits at a time.
“I love it. It gives me an opportunity to take my mind off of the things I can’t do and let’s me focus on what I can do,” she said.
She’s been successful, too. She’s won awards and many of her works have been purchased and now hang in prominent homes and businesses.
“We love to walk the halls of the hospital and see the artwork each year during Goodwill contest time,” said Sandra Walker, director of volunteer services at Methodist Rehab. This year we’ve had the largest number of entries ever. Almost 300 pieces of art by the disabled grace Methodist Rehab’s second floor hallway leading to its Atrium Mall.
The Goodwill contest has grown every year its been held. From 1998 to 2002, the number of entries doubled from 71 to about 170.
This year, Goodwill Industries and Methodist Rehab were joined by Very Special Arts of Mississippi as sponsors of the show. VSAM is a local division of an international body dedicated to creating learning opportunities through the arts for people with disabilities.
Having the art hang at the Walter Anderson museum is a great accomplishment and hopefully the first of many, said Leslie Scott of VSAM. “We hope that other museums in the state will want to show these winners as well,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to show everyone that even when the body is impaired, the mind is still capable of creating beautiful things.”
All of the art from the Goodwill show is for sale, Walker added. “And the artists receive all of the money from the sale of their work.”
Disabled artists have always been recognized and commended at Methodist Rehab, Walker said. The hospital’s gift shop houses an art gallery that displays their work year round. But each year from April to June, art from all over the state is hung in the halls leading from the two-story atrium mall to the cafeteria.
“Many entrants are patients or former patients who have found a talent they didn’t know they had,” said Walker. “It’s great for anyone’s self esteem, but it’s especially so when you’ve lost the use of legs, arms or eyes. Having your art hanging on the walls for everyone to see is therapeutic.”
Mark Adams, left, president and CEO of Methodist Rehabilitation Center, with Betty Jane Chatham of Starkville, the overall winner of this year's Goodwill Art Show.
Artist Joy Jones, left, of Pearl describes her work to Madison resident Sandra Walker, director of volunteer services at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson.
Lucy Brogan of Pearl, front, Sue Spitchley of Madison, middle, and Julie Hall of Mendenhall, back, are three of the 170 Mississippi artists with disabilities who entered this year's Goodwill Art Show at Methodist Rehabilitation Center.