Laura Levy stood proudly next to her artwork at the Tilles Center at LIU Post -- a newspaper clipping and acrylic paint combination on wood of the Manhattan skyline she named “Inner City Landscape.” The brightly colored abstract buildings rest on top of a vibrant blue sky that stands out against the black wooden frame surrounding it.
“I like the fact that it [the city] always looks like abstract pieces,” said Levy, 41, of Franklin Square. “It represents my interpretation of the way a city comes together in shape, form and color.”
Although the inspiration for the art came from her love of visiting the city, Levy’s art would not have been possible without the art therapy program at Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Inc. (FREE). Founded in 1977 and headquartered in Old Bethpage, FREE serves more than 3,000 people with autism and other developmental disabilities across Long Island every day.
Levy’s painting, along with the artwork of 13 other artists from FREE, is now up on display and for sale at the Tilles Center in an exhibit called “Revelations.” The art show began Tuesday with a reception and will be on display free of charge until Nov. 25.
Proceeds made from sales will be donated toward superstorm Sandy relief. Ed Regensburg, director of art therapy for FREE, decided to make donation after realizing just how many people are still in need of immediate aid. FREE is adopting communities throughout Long Island, with FREE members shopping for needed supplies and bringing them to outreach centers like Island Harvest.
“The idea was an obvious and heartfelt response to this devastation; we are all still becoming more aware of it with each day,” said Regensburg, 59, of East Northport. “There are so many people who are so devastated by what happened and we felt that the most natural thing to do is to give back.”
Normally, money made from art shows go back into the organization to continue funding to programs like art therapy. But Levy is very happy with the organization’s decision.
“I think it’s great that the money is going to people affected by hurricane Sandy,” said Levy. “It shows that they [FREE] have a concern for other people’s well beings as well as concerns in the [special-needs] community itself.”
FREE’s art therapy program has helped feature more than 20 exhibitions in the past few years all over Long Island, including shows in the Omni gallery in Uniondale and the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City. Joyce Law, an art therapist for FREE, says that art is a great way to help those with developmental disabilities, especially when their artwork is displayed.
“A lot of time, people have difficulty expressing themselves verbally, so I think that by using other mediums and materials, it’s much easier for a lot them to kind of put their emotions out there and speak what they are feeling in a sense where their doing it through art,” said Law, 30. “It brings up their motivation level since a lot of them cope with low confidence; it gives them an outlet to express themselves and move forward.”
Above: Laura Levy, 41, of Franklin Square, stands beside her artwork "Inner City Landscape" at the artist reception and opening for the art show "Revelations." (Nov. 13, 2012)