The Texas Tech Student Disability Services hosted their annual Creative Abilities Gallery at First Friday Art Trail on Friday night to wrap up Disability Awareness Week. This gallery included artwork created by students within Student Disability Services to be displayed and purchased by the Lubbock community.
James Whitfield, associate director of Student Disability Services, said this is the fourth year hosting the Creative Abilities Gallery, and their main purpose is to showcase students’ abilities to create art and perform.
“It’s just to kind of open up everybody’s perception on what students can do,” he said.
The event is important because it focuses on something other than what a student’s disability is, Whitfield said. It is also bringing awareness to people in the community so they know who the students are and what they do.
“When they look at these art pieces, I hope people take away other peoples’ perceptions and how they were feeling at the time or what it took for them to make that piece of art or what it represents,” he said. “It’s different for every student.”
Kaitlin Hughes, academic counselor with Student Disability Services, said Disability Awareness Week is a great week where people can celebrate the uniqueness and talents that students with disabilities have. A lot of the times, students with disabilities are seen as just their disability at first, but Hughes said this event helps show their creative side.
The gallery features works such as poetry, live dance, art and pottery. The greater Lubbock area comes out to First Friday, so it is a great opportunity to raise awareness on disabilities and the talents the students have.
“Accessibility and inclusion are really hot topics right now – everyone wants to be treated equally and be treated the same and as an academic counselor, we want to see them have those same opportunities,” she said.
A lot of the art pieces have been donated by the students and the Lubbock community, and the funds people are paying for these pieces go straight into the Alex C. Watkins scholarship fund, Hughes said, which was created a couple of years ago. That scholarship money goes to a student with a disability to help pay for their college, which is another great cause about the gallery.
Hughes said she hopes the gallery widens peoples’ minds about the services Student Disability Services has to offer.
“I also hope that it widens their minds and gets them thinking about disabilities and helps them learn more about our services and that Lubbock is really open to disabilities,” she said.
Javier Smith, a junior creative media industries major from Austin, was one of the students who created artwork for the gallery. He said he submitted three photographs to be displayed and see what people thought of them.
As a student with Asperger’s Syndrome, Smith said this event is important to him because it shows that just because someone has a disability does not mean there are not things they are good at.
“I like to think that people with disabilities, whether it’s autism or whatever, honestly are more of the creative kind of people,” he said. “It’s important to show because a lot of these people may be shy and not like to put themselves out there, and this gives them a chance to show people who they are and express themselves and in a way also get confirmation from people that their artwork is good.”
Smith said he hopes that people saw a good amount of art and had a good time and hopes that they see that this is the students’ passion and what they love to do.
“I hope this gets people to see a portion of ourselves and our artistic sides,” he said.