What is it about?

This essay explores the role of art and storytelling in organizing expressive and vocational opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. Passion Works is a non-profit organization that fosters collaborative art-making among people with differing abilities. Guided by an asset-based approach titled the Creative Abundance Model, the studio challenges deficit-based narratives that guide traditional programming in sheltered workshops for individuals with developmental disabilities. The studio functions as an incubator of discovery, a process central to fostering individual well-being and social change.

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Why is it important?

People with disabilities are one of the last groups of people who are still having their rights violated. Part of that rights violation is being served in a segregated and isolated setting. It’s time to bring sheltered workshops and people with disabilities out of the shadows. Passion Works is bringing people out of the shadows. The studio is located in a central downtown location with a gallery and store at the front of the studio. Passion Works is a place for the community to come in and see what we’re doing and join us. We are not just doing art. We are offering opportunities for individuals to move beyond stereotypes and encounter human beings on a deeper level. We are offering opportunities for historically marginalized individuals to be integrated in community life. Everyone is enriched in the process.


We are really focused on self-sustainability. A core belief of the Creative Abundance Model is that in any given community there are an abundance of resources. Communities have wood, metal, paint, fabric, and other materials that can be upcycled into collaborative art-making project. And creativity is abundant – humans will never run out of creativity. Our ability to respond to opportunity and share this model will empower other programs to examine the ways in which material resources and creativity are abundant in their own locations. Creative abundance is not something that we designed per say. Instead, it’s something that we observed. Ultimately, our goal is for others to embrace the model and put these ideas to work in their unique contexts. Participants are then designing their own programming and we are just partners in the design.

Director of Operations Susan Dlouhy
Ohio University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cultivating Passion through Collaborative Art: A Dialogic Exploration of Disability, Storytelling, and Social Change, Health Communication, April 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2019.1596868.
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