By: Arushi Pandit, FCSN Voices Youth Reporter
From the opening night on September 9 to the public exhibition on September 10 and September 12-14, Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) held their 1st Art Exhibit, “Through Our Eyes,” a celebration of special needs talents in the arts. FCSN has always valued the arts of their students and wanted to organize this showcase to give exposure to their artists and their art. FCSN had a total of 47 dedicated artists, from ages 10 to 75 years old, who devoted time during the FCSN day programs to work on their art for the exhibit. This event was a way to get the broader community to recognize these marvelous artists that have put in hard work to make this showcase possible. As per the title “Through Our Eyes,” the event held importance as an opportunity for the public to get a glimpse into each artist’s perspective on how they view the world. And the FCSN staff wanted to make sure that this exhibit would encompass the story that the artists have displayed in their art.
This art exhibit was made possible by the efforts of FCSN Volunteer and Exhibition Curator Rosaline Qi, program directors, and FCSN staff who worked as a team to contribute to the success of this event. Planning, organizing, and executing this event was a lot of effort and involvement of multiple volunteers and FCSN members. According to Rosaline, the timeline for this exhibit was set in June 2022, and it took months to turn this plan into reality.
The first step in the process was to recruit FCSN artists who were willing to showcase their art. The FCSN staff sent out an interest form for the artists to submit their work if interested. Through their efforts the staff were able to recruit 47 artists and obtained a total of 138 amazing art pieces for the exhibit. Once the pieces were identified and curated, Rosaline and the staff started to think through the budget requirements to make this dream exhibit a reality. FCSN applied for multiple grants in order to make this exhibit the best possible for their artists. According to Rosaline, they were able to secure a grant of about $2000 which was helpful but not sufficient to execute an event at the scale envisioned by the FCSN staff.
The FCSN staff decided to use the FCSN Osgood facility in Fremont to save money towards renting any external facility. The Osgood facility needed work to make it inviting and presentable for the showcase. Due to this, the FCSN staff went above and beyond by putting their all into revamping the facility. They repainted the walls, patched up holes in the walls, and covered up the imperfections while working in extreme weather conditions due to the heat wave that week. Once the facility was ready, Rosaline led the project of organizing and designing the whole layout of the exhibit and made decisions on where precisely the art pieces should be placed or hung for ease of viewing.
With a clear blueprint of the exhibit layout available, the dedicated FCSN staff spent hours installing all 138 art pieces for the display. As the exhibit was getting ready, the team was simultaneously working on the marketing plan to build awareness and excitement for the upcoming event. Various marketing methods like flyers, press releases, community emails, and other promotional materials were leveraged to spread the work. A press release was also published in the local news outlet. Additionally, the event had a VIP guest list including the Mayor of Fremont Lily Mei. Rosaline shared that these efforts drove great publicity in the broader community, resulting in the exhibit drawing 400 visitors over the 4 day (September 10 & September 12-14) public showcase. As a final touch, FCSN staff created a welcoming ambiance to go with the creative theme. On their opening night on September 9, 150 visitors enjoyed live music by the Dream Achievers Band and delicious appetizers provided by Friends Coffee & Tea, a coffee shop that operates under FCSN.
In the end, this exhibit was a huge success and the team achieved their goal of highlighting the art of these wonderful artists to the broader community and communicating the story of this exhibit which was “Through our Eyes.” The event had a great line of artists and art pieces on display. It drew a larger than expected crowd, and the artists received highly encouraging comments, giving them confidence to forge forward in their artistic pursuits. Many guests applauded FCSN for giving their artists this platform and exposure and are excited for the next art showcase!