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Differently abled artists of color showcased in Gateway Arts exhibition

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Differently abled artists of color showcased in Gateway Arts exhibition
Jordana Simpson. Untitled (BLM). Colored pencil and marker on paper. 12in x 9in. COURTESY PHOTO

Gateway Arts, an art studio devoted to supporting artist with disabilities, has dedicated its summer exhibition to celebrating Black, Indigenous and Latinx artists working at Gateway Arts, now and in past years. “Celebrating Artists of Color” will run through the end of the summer season, and new works are added every week.

“We need to pay more attention to people of color in general,” says Stephen DeFronzo, artistic director of Gateway Arts. “Because of the political time we’re in now, we’re trying to lend some support to that particular voice that is saying Black Lives Matter.”

DeFronzo estimates there are as many as 50 pieces in the show, and the works will go up on the Gateway Arts website on a rolling basis. Though the organization’s formal gallery space is currently closed, viewers can make an appointment to visit the Gateway Arts shop and abbreviated gallery to see some of the works live. Ultimately, all the artworks will be online for viewing and purchase as well.

Many of the pieces in the show were created recently, even during the COVID-19 shutdowns, and speak to our current moment. Ashley Barbour created a digital portrait of Breonna Taylor on a bubblegum-pink backdrop, sold in a limited print edition of 10. Jordana Simpson used colored pencil and marker on paper to create “Untitled (Black Lives Matter)” which features a woman of color wearing a mask that reads, “I am not a virus.” Simpson said in a statement to Gateway, “The reason why I did it is that because no matter what color you are, we matter. Because you are Black it doesn’t mean you should be treated in a different way.”

Gateway Arts serves artists with disabilities all around Boston by providing them with tools, materials, studio space at its Brookline Village location, regular exhibition opportunities and a community of other artists to connect to. Since the COVID-19 shutdowns began, operations have moved online. Thanks to donations from art supply retailers like Blick, the Gateway staff was able to send an art materials kit to every one of the organization’s more than 100 artists around the city. They’ve also been hosting regular studio visits via Zoom.

Half of the sale price for works purchased in “Celebrating Artists of Color” goes directly back to the artists. The other half goes to Gateway Arts, which DeFronzo says will use the funds to buy materials for the artists. New works by local artists of color will be added throughout August.

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