Gifted Images

The Joy of Being Seen

When I conceived the project of sharing photography with a group of people with developmental disabilities I didn’t anticipate the excitement and pride that would come out of exhibiting their work.  Nor, did I expect the large number of people from the larger community that would attend the opening night event.

Gulf Island Families Together Society (G.I.F.T.S.) is dedicated to removing barriers, creating inclusion, and supporting independence by providing the community with social and recreational programs for physically and developmentally handicapped teens and young adults.  This mandate linked perfectly with my passion for re-defining community.

In this project photographers shared their craft in two sessions of instruction and walk-about on the streets of our town and a third session of one-on-one time with participants’ images in Adobe Lightroom. In this final session each person chose their own favourite images from which two would be selected for a gallery exhibit.

The Exhibit was called APERTURE: Focusing on the diversity of ways the world may be seen.  A Poster was created, invitations were sent and the local newspaper printed an editorial.  The GIFTS facility was transformed into a gallery space and images were hung in a professional display including headshots and bios.  There was a corner with musicians; a table with refreshments and the new artists came in their finery to receive the much-deserved accolades of the community.

Lolita Legs

Swing Man

Boat to Vegas

Muddy Tire



Scooter Rainbow

Art Spring Reflections

Winter walker



What’s next

What’s next came out of the evening conversations at the APERTURE exhibit.  Members of GIFTS who had been reluctant to jump into something unknown were inspired by what they saw and along with current participants have asked for the photography workshops to happen again.

Members of the Salt Spring Island Photography Club have offered one-on-one mentoring for the next sessions!  And, the administrators are discussing a possible calendar and cards for sale so island visitors may come to G.I.F.T.S. for gifts.