The Summit - The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts

'The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts (the Nina) opened its doors in January 2003 under the umbrella of a large disability organization interested in exploring ways to connect adults with developmental disabilities with their community through a shared interest in artistic expression.  Beginning with a single artist in a rented studio, the Nina Haggerty Centre is now an independent charitable arts organization that is home to a Collective of more than 170 artists, all with disabilities. 

They work alongside a team of paid professional artists and volunteers in the studios, experimenting with a range of media that includes painting, drawing, ceramics, fabric, print making, mixed media, glass, animation and dance.'

'Beyond its mandate as a disability arts organization, the Nina is committed to community development, moving in 2009 moved to its community of choice, an inner-city neighbourhood identified for revitalization.  The Nina is part of the grassroots movement that is transforming this area into an arts district, serving as a busy community hub outside of its normal studio hours. 

The on-site gallery hosts 16 – 20 exhibitions by emerging and outsider artists, including members of the Nina Collective, and the studios host regular free and low cost community and family art classes and programs for diverse groups, including at-risk youth, children and adolescents with autism and men dealing with addiction issues.  The space is also a venue for four annual arts festivals and is regularly used by local community groups for meetings, workshops, media launches and special events.'

Leona Clawson

Leona was born in Winnipeg, one of twin girls, in 1947. The family moved to Edmonton when she was 9 years old. Leona credits her mother, an art teacher, with cultivating her early interest in art. Initially a way to relax, she now sees art as her career and an important part of who she is.

A key participant in a project involving art and human rights, Leona and her art were featured in an exhibition, art publication and documentary film.The highlight for her was an invitation to travel to Rideau Hall in Ottawa where she met with His Excellency John Ralston Saul.

Leona works primarily with acrylic paint, usually landscapes dotted with people, animals or houses. Recently she has begun experimenting with large, sculptural projects. She studies other art and develops her work slowly, committed to whatever project she is working on. She describes it this way: “It’s like I drowned, I drowned in my own art. It’s a great feeling!”

Randy Stennes 

Randy was born in 1957. Family is important to Randy, he lives at home with his parents in Sherwood Park. He is a prolific artist who likes to create pictures with two very different subject matter; scenes from programs he has seen on television or landscapes from memories and photographs. Randy typically works with pencil crayons but has recently begun experimenting in chalk and oil pastels. Some of his pictures are fanciful in nature with a bright imagination. Others are gentle landscapes complete with their own frame.

Showing his art is a special treat for Randy, there is a sense of pride in knowing that others enjoy what he creates. Randy says, “I draw all day. That’s what I like best to do. I draw at my Mom and Dad’s, I draw at the group home, I draw at the Centre. I have my own sketchbook. I draw all kinds of things, dinosaurs and dinosaurs being born, people, people holding up buildings, my ex-girlfriend Katie. Ideas come from my head and from photographs. I like to fill up the page. Two of my drawings were put on t-shirts.”

Images from top: 'Have a Super Holiday' by Randy Stennes, Leona Clawson with her piece 'Lynn', Leona Clawson exhibiting her work, scultpure by Leona Clawson, Randy Stennes exhibiting, and Randy Stennes working in the studio.

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