For the past 45 years, The Charles Lea Center has been an integral part of the Spartanburg County community. Established in 1971, CLC has grown and evolved over the years to meet the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or chronic medical conditions in both early intervention and adult service programs. Through the partnership, collaboration, and outpouring of support by the surrounding community, CLC has been able to impact the lives of over 1500 individuals with special needs. But for the people CLC serves, great success has often come with great stigmatization. For others not familiar with the special needs, disability is often a four letter word whispered in back hallways through hushed tones of pity and exasperation. As a result, diversity is often synonymous with exclusion; however, the folks at CLC, staff and individuals alike, work every day to change this perception, to encourage dialogue, and to promote inclusion in all aspects of community life.
This art show, “Embracing Diversity – The Art of Inclusivity,” serves two distinct purposes: to showcase the talent housed within the CLC family and to promote community integration through mixed media and abstract design. Each one of these pieces was created by someone associated with the intellectual disabilities world. Some pieces capture the endearing child-like quality some possess; some pieces capture complicated and intricate inner connections others possess; all pieces are diverse and unique and created to represent the part of themselves that the artists want the world to see. It is with great pride that we present our collective artwork for inclusion in the Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg. It is our hope that in doing so, we can continue to facilitate the breaking down of barriers, stereotypes, and exclusive practices for individuals with disabilities.