Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital’s Popular Art Ability Program Now Accepting Submissions

Image via Main Line Health.

By Main Line Health

As a healthcare organization, the safety of our constituents is our highest priority. While our commitment to Art Ability remains strong, in light of the current pandemic, we have decided to pivot the annual Preview Reception and Dinner & Auction events to a virtual format.

As we celebrate Art Ability’s 25th year, we invite you to join us for the livestream virtual Kick-Off Party on Saturday, Nov. 7. The annual exhibit and sale will be on display at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital from Nov. 8 to Jan. 31 and will be open to the public based on current visitor policies. We are excited by this opportunity and the potential to reach an even broader audience. We look forward to sharing more in the months ahead.

Art Ability is dedicated to creating community awareness of people with disabilities and encouraging people with disabilities to reach beyond their limitations and find fulfillment and inspiration through art.

Art Ability: Past and Present

Art Ability offers a unique and accessible venue for artists with disabilities to display and sell their work. In addition to supporting Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital’s vision and mission to advocate for those with disabilities in our community while advancing the artistic and financial success of artists with disabilities, the art in the exhibition is used daily to motivate and treat patients at the hospital.

Art Ability began at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in 1996 as an eight-week exhibit and sale of work by artists with disabilities. Now, in addition to the annual exhibitions, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital is an actively collecting institution whose permanent collection of more than 400 objects is on display throughout the year serving as a showcase for, and celebration of, artists with disabilities.

At its inception, the annual exhibition and sale included approximately 40 participating artists and 200 pieces of artwork displayed. The most recent exhibitions featured more than 400 pieces of art, sculpture, and jewelry by 200 artists from around the globe.

Art Ability includes the following major components: a 12-week, international juried exhibition and sale of art and fine crafts produced by individuals with disabilities held each fall; community outreach and education opportunities including satellite exhibitions and interactive demo days; our permanent collection of artwork and the incorporation of artwork into the patient experience; and a corporate art acquisition program.

In 2000, Art Ability was named a Keystone of Accessibility by Gov. Tom Ridge and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Art Ability was also a recipient of a 2009 Inglis Award for Continuing Excellence from the Inglis Foundation. This award honors the performance of nonprofits in the Philadelphia region that enhance the quality of life for people with physical disabilities.

Artists receive 80 percent of proceeds from the sale of their pieces, with 20 percent earmarked to support the hospital’s nationally recognized patient treatment programs.

Annual Exhibition and Sale

Art Ability features work by artists with physical and related cognitive disabilities and hearing and visual impairments. Participating artists express their creativity through painting, photography, sculpture, fiber arts, stained glass, jewelry, and fine crafts. Through these creative modes of expression, artists are able to convey their talent, receive recognition for their work, and often also to further progress in recovering from a life-altering illness or injury.

The event is held every fall. Proceeds of the Art Ability Preview party help support Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital patient and community programs.

Permanent Collection of Work

Pieces from the hospital’s permanent Art Ability collection (400-plus pieces) are displayed at wheelchair height throughout the halls of the hospital year-round for our more than 7,000 patients to enjoy. The collection provides continuous inspiration to the hospital’s patients, their families, and visitors. The hospital clinical staff members often incorporate utilization of Art Ability work into their daily treatment activities with patients. Staff motivates patients by using the collection as tangible evidence of their potential to return to meaningful, productive lives.

Private tours are available upon request.

Satellite Exhibitions

Traveling satellite exhibitions of Art Ability artwork are a key component of the program and have been successful in generating enhanced awareness of the talent and skill of our artists; in addition to communicating that disability is as personally limiting as you make it. Over the past 25 years, Art Ability artwork has been on display at numerous high-profile venues, including the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Philadelphia City Hall, Chester County Studio Tours, Please Touch Museum, West Chester Gallery Walks, and Highfield Hall in Falmouth, Mass.

Interactive Demo Days

During demo days, participating Art Ability artists share the knowledge of their craft with people of all ages with disabilities. These programs could include interactive tours of the exhibition or permanent collection and involve Art Ability artists who share the practice of their craft and their disabilities. Each artist works in a small group and participants create a piece of work under the artist’s guidance.

Corporate art acquisition program

Art Ability also serves as a resource for corporations to help meet their need for art for their corporate art collections. Original works of art by artists with disabilities are now hanging in the offices of the Bryn Mawr Hospital Health Center, Comcast Corporation, Deloitte & Touche, Shannondell at Valley Forge, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Kirby Bates Associates, and Bryn Mawr Hospital. We thank our corporate partners for their visible support of empowering artists with disabilities and supporting Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.

We welcome any artist interested in participating to contact us at or call 484-596-5607 to provide your name and contact information for our mailing list.

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