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Jeather Hamann dances in a red and white ruffled long dress, her dark hair in a pink band, dozens of balloons at her feet and an audience of about a dozen people looking on.

Oakland Museum showcases NIAD designs: ‘It’s very validating for the artists to see their work recognized in this way.’

on September 29, 2023

In joyful movements, a girl sways on a stage adorned with vibrant balloons and gracefully turns, showcasing her fashion creation to the audience. Her pink polyplicate dress billows like a blossoming peony as she twirls. 

This was the scene at “The Vibration of Awesomeness” fashion show earlier this month. The event at the Oakland Museum of California was organized by several community groups including the NIAD Art Center in Richmond. It is part of a series of events associated with the “Into the Brightness” exhibition at the Oakland Museum hosted by NIAD, Creative Growth, and Creativity Explored. The exhibition launched in May and runs until Jan. 21.

A woman in a giant white cowboy hat studded with gems holds a horse made of red bandanas; she has orange hair and is wearing a geometric-patterned shirt in pink, orange and red.
Dorian Reid’s horse-riding experience inspired her runway costume. (Sophia Sun)

NIAD Art Center, a nonprofit art studio that serves the behavioral disabled community in Richmond, worked with its sister organizations Creative Growth and Creativity Explored to throw the first fashion show since the pandemic, with 32 artists showcasing their designs. 

“I’ve already seen how much of an impact it’s had on some of the artists I know who have worked in the exhibition,” said Steph Kudisch, the substitute facilitator at the center. “It’s been so exciting for them to see their work up at OMCA. It’s very validating for the artists to see their work recognized in this way.”

Amanda Eicher, the executive director at the center, said NIAD and OMCA first started talking about a collaborative exhibition two years ago. 

Rebecca Teague, NIAD’s development director, said the fashion show and other in-person events are in stark contrast to the online days of COVID-19. But something new also came out of the pandemic – a virtual studio.

“Five to 10 people come to the virtual studio every day,” Teague said. “We also provide at-home art kits and people have art supplies coming to them every week. And it’s still running now.” 

Liliana Herrera, the exhibition and collections associate, said the center holds weekly online exhibitions and plans to hold a new show every two months.

More than 75 artists have come back to the studios. 

“The center,” Teague said, “is larger than ever.”

(Top photo: Heather Hamann showcases her self-designed costume. By Sophia Sun)

Oakland Museum shines ‘overdue light’ on works by artists with disabilities

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