Postcard image promoting the "cliffs are poet(z)" Art for All exhibit.

ICI’s Art for All: The Stephanie Evelo Program for Art Inclusion opens its largest exhibit to date on July 15, featuring the work of eight diverse artists with disabilities in the Northrup King Building in northeast Minneapolis. 

The exhibit, covering about 3,600 square feet, marks the first in-person Art for All show in 18 months. It runs Thursdays (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.) and Saturdays (noon to 4 p.m.) through Aug. 28 at 1500 Jackson St. NE, 3rd floor gallery. The featured artists will be introduced at a reception from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 5, with formal remarks at 6 p.m.

Artists whose work is featured in the show are Katharine Fitzgerald, whose work includes drawings of fantasy creatures; Dan Stallsworth, an abstract painter who works on canvas; Donna Ray, a ceramic artist; Geordy Levin, whose paintings often include nature scenes; Jessica Williams, who often creates digital art; Lindsey Moreland, who often draws the character Betty Boop or the artist Frida Kahlo; Nicole Noblet, a visual artist whose work includes fiber art; and Lydia Sponslier, who often paints abstract work. 

“Living and experiencing life through my ceramics is like food to my soul,” said Ray, who also painted part of the Black Lives Matter mural on Plymouth Avenue last summer in Minneapolis. “It always reminds me of exactly who I am and where I am journeying in this world as a disabled individual.” Ray was featured in an Art for All solo exhibition earlier this year.

Stallsworth uses an adaptive headband with a dowel to hold a paint brush as he applies layers of color as a painting develops.

“I have a desire for people to love my art and understand exactly what it takes for me to create these pieces,” he said.

The show title and theme, cliffs are poet(z), are an homage to Cliff Poetz, Art for All’s longest-serving advisory committee member and a nationally recognized disability activist who died in March. The title refers to a quote by the Scottish writer George Mackay Brown that likens the natural world to the art of poetry. 

“There is a line of Brown’s that says ‘cliffs are poets,’ and his poetry is about the changing of the seasons and the journey someone goes on to travel through those seasons,” said Nik Fernholz, program manager for Art for All. “It seemed appropriate both to honor the seasons of Cliff’s life, but also to be intentional about showcasing artists at different stages of their careers and telling different stories with their work.”

Sheryl and David Evelo, in partnership with ICI, founded the Art for All Endowment in memory of their daughter Stephanie Evelo, who worked at the Institute and who was a gifted artist.

“The Evelos very much want to represent emerging artists and build relationships with them as they develop their careers,” Fernholz said. “We intentionally searched for and included some artists who are not already represented by art centers to round out the mix of professional experience.”