An image taken of Passion Works’ “A Story of Flying” exhibition at the Kennedy Museum of Art. (WOUB Public Media/Rachael Beardsley)

Passion Works’ ‘A Story of Flying’ on Display Through Dec. 16

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Passion Works, a local art studio that celebrates the creative potential in people of all ability levels, is having an exhibition at Kennedy Museum of Art to celebrate its 20th anniversary with the Athens community.

The exhibition, A Story of Flying, is a multimedia display occupying three galleries. It showcases the work of Passion Works artists, such as paintings and papier-mâché, in a rainbow of colors that mirrors the organization’s uptown studio.

“It’s arranged in [an] all over way, so when you walk into the gallery, it’s sort of like you’re bombarded by all this color,” said Jeffrey Carr, exhibitions and collections manager at the Kennedy Museum of Art.

Over their 20 year history, Passion Works has focused on creating a community center for people of all abilities to work together with creativity and purpose. People with developmental differences are recognized at the studio for their talents and unique abilities. Founder Patty Mitchell, who curated the exhibition along with other workers and student volunteers, says the inspiration for Passion Works came from her work at the Athens Mental Health Center, where she often made art with patients.

(WOUB Public Media/Rachael Beardsley)

“I saw how people came to life and how you could connect with someone without really having to talk, and the idea for having a collaborative community art studio came from [working] at the hospital,” she said.
The Kennedy Museum of Art, which is now housed on former hospital grounds at The Ridges, has hosted three previous Passion Works exhibits. In 1996, it hosted an exhibit of 100 papier-mâché birds, and in 1997 it hosted another exhibit illustrating a poem. The third show at the museum, involving a nine-month-long grant, is when Mitchell says Passion Works truly began.

“The name of the show was Passion Works because it was a declaration that in order to make any art work, or make anything happen really, you need passion and work,” she said. “It’s been a big, giant circle back around, (…) so I think it’s really special that we get to have such a relationship with the Kennedy and that the beginnings of Passion Works started there even before the museum was founded.”

Carr also recognized the long history between the museum and Passion Works, and said it was only fitting that Kennedy give them gallery space for their 20th anniversary. He also said the organization has had a big influence on the community. Passion Works art is on display in the mayor’s office, in the community center and in many local businesses.

(WOUB Public Media/Rachael Beardsley)

“You see their influence everywhere,” he said. “They have a big impact on the community, I think, as well as kind of serving as a model for other communities to emulate.”

In the future, Mitchell says she wants to continue to make Passion Works an environment where community ties are strengthened.

“We’re interested in expanding and really sharing how we make art and facilitate a community art center,” she said. “We want to do that through love and creating more places where people can come together and … have meaningful experiences.”

A Story of Flying will be on display at the Kennedy Art Museum until December 16. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.