YES Art Works Works!

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Michael Douglas isn’t used to getting attention, but a recent exhibit at the Blue Spoon Café in Portland has changed that. As an artist at YES Art Works, he has been refining his style and creating a deep body of work, but the exhibit of painted portraits struck a chord with customers leading to the sale of 7 out of the twelve pieces.

“It makes me happy that people like my art. I like to paint faces because everyone is different,” said Michael. “The money I earn makes my life better. I can buy the things I like to save for.” According to Janet Dutson, Communications Director for Creative Work Systems (CWS), the YES Art Works studios at CWS are one of the many ways the organization supports people with disabilities in creating some economic independence. “Michael’s artistic gifts are strengthened and supported at YES Art Works. The goal of the studios is to nurture the growth of the artists, inspire them with new tools and concepts, and then help them develop an audience by placing their work in galleries and shops,” she states.

National statistics indicate that only 20% of people with disabilities are employed and those numbers decrease for people with intellectual disabilities. While finding places to sell the art made by YES Art Works artists supports community inclusion and self expression, Mary Jo Marquis, the agency Art Program Manager, says it’s also about earning money and the self worth and independence that comes with making (and spending) your own money. “We work with artists to spur growth and refine their skills. The art that’s produced in our studios is truly amazing and people see that. I think that’s why we’ve found so much support in the community for our artists’ work.”

YES Art Works encompasses all of the art programming at Creative Work Systems, a not-for-profit, social service rehabilitative agency that serves people with disabilities. To see more art from the artists, take a look at our gallery.