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Stratford Press - 2021-10-13

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Art’s insight into challenges for kids

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Alyssa Smith

An exhibition is providing a glimpse into the lives of Taranaki children with disabilities. Cherie Dodds’ exhibition Part of your world is on display at Fenton Street Arts Collective. She has painted numerous portraits on wooden boards, using oil paints and colourful tones. “It gives the viewer an insight into the day-to-day lives of Taranaki children with disabilities and their families,” Cherie says. “It’s also a plea to recognise the differently abled community in wider society.” Her exhibition is loosely inspired by The Little Mermaid song of the same name. “My daughter has cerebral palsy and she really likes listening to Disney songs. The idea grew from there. I went on Facebook and shared my idea to see if other families would get on board. For my exhibition, I have worked with five Taranaki families.” The paintings capture the children as fun-loving and empathetic people, she says. “The parents provided reference photos. Part of the criteria was being able to have the faces fill a good portion of the board, in an attempt to grab the viewer’s eye. In most cases, the main subject is in the foreground.” Cherie’s paintings are labelled with the child’s diagnosis information. “It’s purposefully in medical jargon so that it can be searched on the internet and take people on the same plunge that parents regularly have into a one-sided negative outlook on life. “It gives a glimpse of the challenges that grind us down, but not the complexities, and also not how amazing it is to have our children in our life. The exhibition also features artwork by the children.” She says the aim of the exhibition is not political. “It can’t be helped that one of the layers has to do with politics. These include the fight for funding to access supports, therapies and surgeries.” Cherie says it also reflects challenges around accessibility to buildings, toileting and showering, and the ability to join play. The exhibition is partially funded by the Stratford District Creative Communities Fund. “The funds helped me to buy the materials I needed to create the artworks,” said Cherie. The exhibition runs until October 22.

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