Friday, 19 September 2003

Rome (Fides Service) –The European Year of the Disabled continues to be marked by a variety of Initiatives. The latest is an art exhibition on show inside the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, 22-24 September 2003, promoted by Gli Amici (Friends) Movement, part of the Rome based S. Egidio Community, which has over 1000 members including people with a disability and their families.
This exhibition is an exhibition with a difference. The difference lies in the vital power of its message and the tone and joy which is perceived in the first works. It is not, in fact, a dismal sequence of pictures on the life of the disabled (which it does touch delicately). Instead the visitor finds him or herself faced with a series of questions and proposals formulated by the artists in a most original way charged with meaning on various themes in the world today, human rights, religion, peace, solidarity with Africa. These “artists of friendship” as they like to be called, have made their “different ability” become an opportunity rather than a condemnation. They are all convinced that “diversity is joy in the world”, and this is the qualifying motif of this unusual exhibition, which has helped to unleash – in persons with physical and mental disabilities – hidden and unsuspected energies, which reach extraordinary expressive richness. For these artists, of all ages, painting is not a therapy or exercise for consolation, it is an opportunity to communicate an interior universe usually hidden from the eye and to offer a more human vision of the world and of life, more human, with more joy and solidarity. AP (Fides Service 19/9/2003 EM lines 23 Words: 281)