Abstract Paintings Created With Art Therapy Are Now On View in the Lower Lobby

It is not easy to paint abstractly. It is not easy to consistently cope with the social stigma of having a developmental disability. But with hard work and determination, the artists of April persevere, inspire and impress.

Now on view at the Patchogue-Medford Library is Ascension, a group exhibition featuring the artists of Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE). The exhibition, curated by FREE’s Director of Art Therapy Ed Regensburg, LCAT, consists of eight abstract paintings. The artists included in this exhibition are Lisette S.A., Lauren E., Elizabeth G., Joseph M., Alicia M., Grant N., Daniel K. and Wendy S.

FREE exhibitions feature dynamic works of art created by individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. The images in this exhibition are powerful and moving, both for the viewers and the artists. The paintings are testaments to the important role art has in self expression and empowerment and the expressive outlet fostered by FREE’s Department of Art Therapy fortifies the artists successful, ongoing contributions to their communities.

The Artwork

According to Regensburg, the sky, water, and other natural elements are on display and form a connection between the world and the artists’ path to creativity. One artist in the exhibition is Alicia M. Her painting, Members Only, consists of vibrant oranges with bands of white. The materiality of the paint is apparent as the artist applies the acrylic material in abundance and makes little effort to conceal her paint strokes. The quick and heavily applied brushstrokes enhances the expressive value of the painting. In terms of color theory, orange represents enthusiasm, happiness, and determination and upon viewing the work, one is instantly inspired by its vibrancy and is fascinated by the artist’s rendering of paint. The broad bands of white are also appealing to the view as these form natural breaks, or resting points, for the viewer’s eye.

Alicia M., Members Only, © Alicia M.

Another work in the exhibition is Rainbow Waterfall by Lauren E. The work inspires notions of royalty as Lauren E. pairs heavily applied gold paint within a purple border. Again, the materiality of the paint adds to the overall personality of the painting and the emotional expression it releases. Despite the apparent chaos at first glance, the work does have a sense of order. The artist borders her canvas with a deep purple and then applies a large section of blue that fills nearly the entirety of the composition. Atop the blue, the artist incorporates the gold paint that appears to explode over the canvas. This apparently emotional application of paint lends to the duality of the painting’s title. Like the viscous motions of a waterfall that inspire its natural beauty, Lauren E.’s brushstrokes enhances the overall aesthetics of the piece.

Lauren E., Rainbow Waterfall, © Lauren E.

About The FREE

Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE), founded in 1977, benefits and supports more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury. It is the mission of FREE to assist individuals of all abilities realize their full potential. FREE provides a diverse array of supports and services including housing; employment; crisis services; education and after school support and more. For more information on FREE, visit http://www.familyres.org/


Ascension, a group exhibition featuring the artwork of FREE’s Department of Art Therapy Program participants, is on display at the Patchogue-Medford Library from April 1 – 30. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Wednesday, April 5, from 10:30am – 12:00pm.