Using the Zot Artz art tools equals fun for all! Zot Artz was recently interviewed by PBS. Before watching the clip, learn more about how Zot Artz started from Dwayne Szot, founder and president of Zot Artz.
What gave you the idea to create Zot Artz?
Dwayne: It’s all those parts and pieces that make us who we are. I grew up in a foster home with children of all abilities. I have strong memories of giving my foster sister a ride in the red wagon, down a gravel road, to catch the school bus. She had CP and could not get there fast enough. Sometimes, I would give her a piggyback ride to the bus stop.
What is Zot Artz mission/vision?
Dwayne: Our mission is to create completeness experiences through the arts.
I believe our tools, as sculptures, are the instruments to reach individuals of all abilities. I want to create life-affirming experiences for everyone.
What is your favorite art tool?
Dwayne: It seems to be the one I am working on at the moment!
It’s a combination of all the tools that create a magical experience.
They all have a beauty of their own.
For example, Chalk, Walk, and Roll, as someone rolls along, for the first time ever, creating poetry with chalk on the sidewalk from the dignity of his or her own mobility.
Major Bubbles, the simple joy of bubbles in space, as an individual rolls through the room creating a floating composition of bubbles.
The Zot Artz tools are about the importance of mark making and the completeness of experiences. We all want to create something that helps us experience beauty or create beauty.
What is your favorite memory?
Dwayne: There are so many memories they merge together over time.
Sometimes, I think it’s when I realize what is needed to complete experience. Sometimes, it’s the joy I see when someone has left his/her mark with the art roller. Sometimes, it’s the sharing and creating together, brothers and sisters, all abilities, experiencing the joy of creating together.
What’s your dream event?
Dwayne: I’m working with re-gifting the gift of art. Transforming the large wheelchair paintings into a hundred pieces, a hundred art cards. They are assembled and become composition sculptures that are in turn regifted back to the community. The paintings become part of the fabric of the community.
I love Zot Artz shows, which are over-the-top experiences, like a rave for all, becoming interactive environments.
Where did you see Zot Artz in 10 years?
Dwayne: I would like to be in a place where more people are doing what I’m doing.
If not, what the studio and I have it achieved over the years will end.
I need to work on this because no one else will.
I would like to create a way in which individuals with disabilities can play a greater part making this possible. Zot Artz does a lot of large community-based and museum events. I would like to see more experiences available for small activities, such as birthday parties for children of all abilities. I would like to create a way for Zot Artz tools to be produced by individuals with disabilities as a work opportunity. Providing meaningful employment opportunities is one of our current goals.
Hello, my name is Katie! I’m a recent graduate of Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising with a concentration in Social Media. While at MSU my biggest accomplishment, besides earning my degree, was getting Spartan Stadium accessible to all students. Currently, I am the Social Media Intern for Zot Artz. I found out about Zot Artz through social media postings two years ago from the Abilities Expo. That summer I met Dwayne at the Chicago Abilities Expo and mentioned I was looking for an internship.
Some of my future goals include becoming a Social Media Manager, starting an adaptive sports/fitness blog, and travel to London and Italy. In my spare time you can catch me hanging out with family and friends, handcycling, crafting, knitting, trying all adaptive sports or sippin’ sweet tea from a mason jar.
Joanne Knox was an award-winning artist who loved to paint, but because of her disability, the 60-year-old from Bear hasn’t put color to canvas in years.
All that changed earlier this month when Dwayne Szot of Zot Artz stopped by Chimes Delaware on Interchange Boulevard with his adaptive paint brushes, giving Knox the ability to use her creative talents once again.
“I love art,” Knox said. “I had fun.”
On Dec. 7, Knox and other members of Chimes, a nonprofit that provides support for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, used Szot’s paint rollers and stencils, which can be attached to wheelchairs or walked like a push mower, to spread different colors of paint across a giant canvas on the floor.
Knox walked across the canvas several times, pushing pink, then red, then yellow paint. She said she had a hard time walking with the equipment at first, but once she got the hang of it, she didn’t want to stop. After everyone had a go, Knox said she stepped back and admired the work.
“It looked nice and beautiful,” she said.
Founded in 1990, Michigan-based Zot Artz creates special art events for children, adults and seniors of all abilities, including those with physical impairments, hearing and visual impairments, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and autism. Employees show up with all the tools and supplies and work with participants as they paint, roll, stamp and print to make their masterpiece.
Dave Black, director of day services at Chimes, said he learned about Zot Artz from Lisa Bartoli, executive director of Art Therapy Express – a Delaware-based nonprofit dedicated to giving people with disabilities a voice through the arts. He said Chimes works with Art Therapy Express once a week and Bartolli thought Chimes might benefit from a Zot Artz activity.
Black took one look at the company’s website and said yes.
“It was the inclusiveness and that it could include our entire population,” he said. “It didn’t matter if you were in a wheelchair or walker, or not. Everyone could be as creative as they wanted to be regardless of any disability.”
During the event Dec. 7, the Chimes participants each made their own stencil out of foam. Then they dipped the foam in paint and spread their design over the canvas, which was laid out on the lunchroom floor. They also made their own individual pieces to take home.
“Some people, like Joanne, went around twice, it was so much fun,” Black said. “Everyone really enjoyed it. Some of the smiles were just ear to ear.”
He said Chimes plans to turn the large canvas into smaller greeting cards to hand out and posters to frame and hang around the center.
“That way everyone can look at it and say, ‘That was my stencil. That was my paint,’” he said.