Current Exhibit: Avery Skaggs, Home: Disability & Creativity in a Pandemic Lockdown January 7-28
Avery Skaggs | Home: Disability & Creativity in a Pandemic Lockdown
Avery Skaggs was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska and began exploring paint as soon as he could sit upright in his wheelchair. His style is a form of action painting, often called abstract expressionism. Avery is non-verbal and his physical expressions through his paintings are both subtle and bold. Each piece engages Avery’s energy, which is at times close and contained to small hand gestures and at other times broad and reaching, sweeping across the canvas. The final outcome is a representation of Avery’s physical presence as captured over the course of days and months of work. Each piece is its own living entity, constantly in motion long after Avery has released his last stroke. He has exhibited for numerous solo and group shows in the capital city since 2010.
For over a decade, Avery has been able to create his art alongside friends and support staff at REACH’s Canvas studio four to five days a week. That continuity came to an abrupt halt on March 16, 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak shut everything down. Avery’s shared home, which includes a live-in support family, went on lockdown for six weeks. Additional staff moved into the home to provide healthcare services. No one came in or out during that strict quarantine time.
Home: Disability & Creativity in a Pandemic Lockdown is a body of works Avery created almost entirely in a newly-fashioned art studio in his garage, created by his health care professionals. It was a journey of figuring things out: wasting paint and going over canvases again and again. Much of his staff didn’t have experience with or aptitude for the art process. They learned and grew alongside Avery during this time. The pandemic year of 2020 was a strange year of simultaneous isolation and coming together. Many things have certainly evolved over the past year, but crucially, what shines through all of Avery’s pieces are his resilience and adaptability.
Watch this video to learn more about Avery and his paintings.