Waisman Center art featured at campus exhibit

Katie Sweeney, Waisman Center Communications

The McPherson Eye Research Institute unveiled its new exhibit, Seeing Beyond Disabilities: Unique Insights, on January 29 in the Mandelbaum and Albert Vision Gallery at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research.

The exhibit features artwork by individuals with developmental disabilities and includes 15 pieces from the Friends of the Waisman Center’s Harvey A. Stevens International Collection of Art by People with Developmental Disabilities.

The goal of the exhibit is to share visually powerful artwork that increases awareness of artists and organizations that promote the arts for people with disabilities. Very Special Arts Wisconsin and Artworking also partnered on this exhibit. One of the featured artists is Madison native Phil Porter. Porter’s work, which is on display year-round in the Waisman Center, often features landscapes and buildings in Madison. He paints these in tribute to his great-grandfather, renowned architect Lew F. Porter, who designed buildings in the Madison area including the state capitol and UW-Madison landmarks the Red Gym and Science Hall.

Waisman Center investigator and Director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute, David Gamm, MD, PhD, and Waisman Center Interim Director, Albee Messing, VMD, PhD, delivered remarks at the exhibit’s opening reception.

Harvey Stevens was inspired to start the art collection in 1976 by a single gift of artwork from a friend in Brazil. The collection was created to encourage people with disabilities to use art therapeutically and to shed light on the perspectives of people with disabilities. The collection was named in Stevens’ honor in 1979 and now has more than 150 works from 15 countries, with mediums ranging from oil paints to collages.

The Stevens collection is maintained by the Friends of the Waisman Center. The exhibit runs through May 22 on the 9th floor of Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research.