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Release Date: March 8,2022

Passion and Joy

PassionWorks Studio and Planet Joy Studio
Opening Night Reception: March 10 / Exhibit run: March 7 – April 15, 2022

March 8, 2022, AKRON, OH –The Emily Davis Gallery at The University of Akron, Myers School of Art, is pleased to present Passion and Joy featuring artwork made by practicing professional artists with developmental differences from PassionWorks and Planet Joy Studio. These artists have accomplished many creative ventures, from designing product lines, creating public artwork, installing exhibitions, and enhancing the festival experience. Although people have historically perceived these artists as unemployable non-viable citizens, they create visual evidence through the depth and wealth of the creative human spirit.

PassionWorks is a collaborative community arts center located in Athens, Ohio. Founded in 1998 by current Executive Director Patty Mitchell, she envisioned collaborating with people through individual interests and abilities. Mitchell describes PassionWorks to, “Amplify what we love. For any human being, there is comfort when welcomed into the fold for who we are and what we like, and not just having attention directed to what our perceived disabilities might be or other life challenges…We intend to build our best lives together.”

While PassionWorks has faced discouraging comments in the past, Mitchell has never wavered in her mission to elevate their artists’ work. In the workshop, Mitchell was told by leadership, “These people will never make anything anyone would ever want to buy.” She pivoted this discouragement into motivation and challenged the status quo. PassionWorks has created a solution to these societal expectations. Mitchell says, “If we cannot imagine something better, we are stuck with the status quo in front of us. And this is why I seek out artists. They envision new things. Better things. And we need to create more pathways for their societal involvement.”

Inspired by the work of PassionWorks, Planet Joy opened its doors in Medina, Ohio, in June of 2018. As a collaborative in-house art studio, they encourage the exploration of imagination and creativity through the arts. Artists of all skill levels and abilities work both independently and collaboratively to bring pieces to life using a variety of mixed media initiatives. In doing this, the studio allows artists to develop their talents, enabling individuals to integrate into the community and share their work with the world, empowering individuals with developmental differences to be valued as equals.

PassionWorks and Planet Joy artists are recognized in the region. The arts centers have successfully created fine art, held gallery exhibitions, and designed public artworks and products. The work created by both PassionWorks and Planet Joy encourage connection, purpose, and belonging through collaborative art-making.

The gallery is in Folk Hall on the University of Akron campus at 150 E Exchange St., Akron, OH 44325. The gallery will host a gallery talk with Patty Mitchell on Thursday March 10, at 7:00 p.m. in the Emily Davis Gallery. Please join us in celebrating the work of Passion Works and Planet Joy.

This exhibition is organized by the Emily Davis Gallery and sponsored by the Gallery Committee of the Myers School of Art, with additional support from the Myers Residency Committee.

Schedule of Events: All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.

Dates for exhibition: March 7, 2021-April 15, 2021

Reception: Thursday, March 10th, 2022 5-8 PM

All events are located in Folk Hall on the University of Akron Main Campus.