Artists with disabilities get Outside the Lines

Don’t let people with disabilities fool you because they’re actually full of capabilities, especially at Outside the Lines Studio.

In a community that’s so art-inspired, Outside the Lines is an alternative arts-based day program for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities.

In conjunction with two similar Philadelphia art programs sponsored by Resources for Human Development, the programs will be hosting an event entitled “Outside Sound” on Tuesday April 9, at 7 p.m. at the Center of Arts at the Armory

The project features original live music with visuals, and an introduction to art programs that support disabled persons.

Chris Coyle, who is the program’s music composer for the show, became involved with the effort after having worked with other students with disabilities.  “I was moved by their work,” he says.

While many art galleries have previously recorded tunes playing as viewers meander through, Coyle wanted to add his own compositions because “the music that I compose to their art is more of my reaction to the artwork,” he explains.

At the studio itself, Program director Else Eaton explains that Outside the Lines didn’t start off as an art program.

“At first, it was a program with one-on-ones and didn’t have a niche or as much structure like how it is now,” she explains. “When the art was introduced, it became a way to direct people in something that they all found value in.”

Artwork by James Finnerty of Outside the Lines.

Artwork by James Finnerty of Outside the Lines.

And overtime, the direct care staff transitioned into a full arts-based program where artists can work freely with professional guidance.

For a lot of the artists in the program, they didn’t know they liked art until they came to Outside the Lines, like Jim, who wished to not give his last name. “It’s a soother-downer.  I come down here and I get totally lost and I’m just taken up with it,” he says with ease.

On the other hand, Diedra Comeau, who’s been coming to the studio for nearly a decade, claims to have always wanted to become an artist.

“I have a learning disability and I have anxiety,” she admits.  “So I’m a person that doesn’t like to be pushed.  And all the other places pushed me too far.  They were way too structured.  That’s why I like it here.”

Though this is mainly a place for creative expression, Outside the Lines also provides job training, community integration and opportunities for the individuals to gain recognition and income as artists.