ZHAN Art | Space Space, an art space dedicated to showcasing contemporary fine art, hosted “Kindness is Easy”—an exhibition featuring 30 exceptional nature-themed art pieces painted by 15 young adults with special needs from Generating Opportunities for Learning Disables (GOLD). The exhibition ran from 18 September until 6 October 2019, with the theme inspired by GOLD’s “Kindness Cookies” ideology which is to empower young adults with special needs to live independently and have a productive life.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, GOLD continues to strive to make an impact and enhance the lives of young adults with special needs. With the appointment of ZHAN Art | Space, the young adults now have a platform to showcase their talent and creative endeavours.
Established in 2000 by a group of teachers and parents from SMK Bandar Sunway, GOLD acts as a rehabilitative vocational training centre for secondary school graduates with Special Needs – the Learning Disabilities. The centre provides support and training for the underprivileged who will otherwise be unemployed and reliant on others for life. GOLD is a non-profit organisation transitioning to be a Social (Disability) Enterprise.
Located in Bandar Sunway, Kompleks 3C, GOLD’s core activities are the production of baked goods, ceramics, cards and handmade packaging suitable for corporate gifts, door gifts and ornaments. Through a supported employment environment setting, these young adults with special needs activities of measuring, sorting, collating, labelling, folding, mailing, sub-assembling and hand packaging allows GOLD to generate an income from products produced & contractual services with local corporate entities.
Present during the exhibition launch was Puan Juairiah Johari, Founder of Generation Opportunities for Learning Disables; Dr Tong Gin Chee, Co-Founder of ZHAN Art | Space; special guests and members of the media.
“The ultimate goal of GOLD is to empower these young adults and inspire them to continuously break barriers and not be limited by their disabilities. By exhibiting their art pieces in a public space, it would be a step forward to a brighter future,” said Puan Juairiah, who never saw disabilities as being an obstacle for these young adults.
Through guidance and mentorship by art teachers, the 15 young adults were able to pick up correct brush skills and produce art pieces. The result: colourful, wonderfully eclectic art pieces inspired by imagery of nature; reinterpreted on canvas.
A total of 30 art pieces are showcased at the exhibition, and all pieces are for sale. Prices range from MYR500 to MYR1,200. All proceeds are channelled back to GOLD for reinvestment in their operating costs, and training for the young adults.
“We believe that talent has no limits and art, similarly to beauty, is in fact in the eyes of the beholder. In giving these art pieces a spotlight in ZHAN Art | Space, we strongly believe that it will add strength to the gallery’s commitment to uplifting emerging artist and showcasing contemporary fine art. We are indeed excited to work with GOLD and have 15 talented young adults showcasing their art pieces with us”, shared Dr Tong Gin Chee, Co-Founder of ZHAN Art | Space.
I had the opportunity to meet Mohammad Ashiddiq Bin Jahufar, a resident of GOLD since 2011. He shared that while he likes creating art on canvas with his peers, he has shifted his focus into the digital realm. With tutoring and mentorship from the Infinite Minds Academy, who run digital tech programmes for special needs people, he has created several animated festive videos. The award-winning academy works with NGOs like GOLD to equip special needs individuals with practical technological skills, applying STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts & Maths) in the curriculum.
Ashiddiq is also the creator of Infinite Help, a location-based mobile app for individuals with special needs. The app makes it easy for the user to call for help in case of emergencies. Now in its final testing phase, Infinite Help is targeted to be available for download on Google Play Store by Q1, 2020.
Original article written by Vernon Chan.