SUNY Adirondack exhibition features works of artists with disabilities

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November 09, 2022

'Merge' an exhibition from Kennedy Center arts organization

QUEENSBURY, New York (Nov. 9, 2022) — SUNY Adirondack is proud to host “Merge,” artwork by 15 emerging young artists with disabilities, in its Visual Arts Gallery beginning Thursday, Nov. 10.

“It is important for our college community to see the many ways young adults deal with their disability,” said Rebecca Pelchar, assistant professor of Art History and director of the Visual Arts Gallery. “Art can be a meaningful outlet for those suffering from mental, emotional and physical conditions.”

The exhibition opens Nov. 10, with an open gallery and refreshments from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and continues through Dec. 16. 

At 12:45 p.m. Nov. 30, a Ted Talk video will be screened, followed by a discussion about young adults with disabilities. Panelists include Lydia Treadway, SUNY Adirondack professor of Psychology; Holly Irion and Tara Booth, assistant professors of Counseling; and Dean Clickner, director of Rose House, a facility of Warren Washington County Mental Health. The event is free and open to the public.

“Merge” is a national touring exhibition organized by VSA, the Kennedy Center’s international organization on arts and disability, and is presented through generous support from Volkswagen Group of America.

The 2021 VSA Emerging Young Artists Competition drew submissions from young artists with disabilities between theages of 16 and 25 from around the U.S. This year’s theme, “Merge,” explores uniting paths and what we can learn when it all comes together. The call invited artists to consider intersections and combinations of their creative process and disability identity.

“These young artists challenge us to see the world through their lived experiences with disabilities. Their work sparks dialogue and examination of who we are and, hopefully, will ignite understanding around creative and identity,” said Betty Siegel, director of VSA and Accessibility of the Kennedy Center. 

This exhibition marks the 20th year of the program in which VSA’s Emerging Artists Competition challenges young artists with disabilities to demonstrate their talents and skills across visual arts genres. The winners receive a total of $60,000 in cash awards as well as national recognition via the exhibition, which will travel to museums and galleries as part of a one-year national tour. 

“Merge” brings together a cross-cutting group of artists working across media, merging 2D and 3D forms, and creating exciting juxtapositions,” said Anna Schneider, senior vice presidentof Industry-Government Relations. “These artists invite us all to consider what new ideas might emerge from blending perspectives. I am both proud and excited to see their award-winning work in our Washington Office after the Capitol Hill debut, and for the opportunities the national tour will create for each artists and their career.”

The VSA Emerging Young Artists Program is sponsored by Volkswagen Group of America. Three of the artists were awarded with financial prizes. 

About VSA and accessibility at The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center has been at the forefront of making the performing arts accessible to people with disabilities. Serving the international disability and arts community, the Office of VSA and Accessibility, a Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability program, provides opportunities for people with disabilities of all ages across the globe to learn through, participate in and enjoy the arts. The office focuses its efforts on cultural access for patrons and visitors with disabilities; arts and special education initiatives; professional development for educators and cultural administrators; and career opportunities in the arts for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

About education at The Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts sets a national standard for arts learning. Working through model programs and a nationwide network of partners, the nation’s cultural center harnesses the power of the arts to address education challenges, accelerate best practices and uplift citizen artists. Across all its programs, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing accessible, inclusive opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in, learn about and learn through the arts. 

New York Timesbestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems serves as the center’ first-ever Education Artist-in-Residence. Throughout his two-year residency, Willems will invite kids and former kids into the creative process with original productions and hands-on, interactive moments.