Advocates of Down syndrome

JDS hosts events for self-advocates.

  • 2005 Down Syndrome Art Creations
  • 2003 Down Syndrome Art Creations
  • 2005 Down Syndrome Art Creations

    The Way Itfs Felt
    Patterns in Dream Color
    -- The World of Saori Weaving Created by People with Down Syndrome

    This exhibit had two sections:

    • Saori Weaving
    • Fashion Show
    • Are you familiar with "Saori" weaving? It was started by Jho Misao in 1968 in Osaka, when she was 57 years old. This free style of weaving is not burdened by complexities. Your first time in front of the loom, you can fall easily into a rhythm that will instantly draw you in. There are over 5,000 lovers of this art in over 40 countries.

      Not only are people with Down syndrome learning saori weaving as a hobby, they are enjoying it in their schools and at work. Whether you are a first timer or a veteran, every creation has an individual flavor, with unique mixes of color, fabric, pattern and texture. Nothing is ever duplicated. Over 145 pieces by over 55 artists were definite eye-catchers in this event.

      2003 Down Syndrome Art Creations

      Exhibition of Artists with Down Syndrome

      Greetings from the Japan Down Syndrome Society

      by Director Dr Tamai Kunio

      On behalf of the Japan Down Syndrome Society, I would like to introduce "Down to Art: An Exhibition of Artists with Down Syndrome."

      Through the help of the National Mental and Physical Disabilities Welfare Foundation, our group received a grant from the Japan Keirin Association. Thanks to this, starting in 2000 we have been able to conduct our project, Down Syndrome Art Creations, for the last five years. Unprecedented collaborations by participants made this project possible, and has been the key to the exhibitionsf warm reception and high praise. Not only have the exhibitions provided a place where artists with Down syndrome can display their creativity, through this project many visitors have been introduced to people with Down syndrome, made contacts, and deepened friendships. As organizers, we couldn't be more pleased.

      This year we are holding "Down to Art: Exhibition of Artists with Down Syndrome." Resisting the inclination to present this as "great works of art by people with Down syndrome," we designed this to be an exhibit where the power of the art itself moves the visitor. We hope that visitors will view these pieces of art and feel them, feel wonder, feel surprise.

      With the opening of this exhibition, I would like to extend my heart-felt gratitude to the artists who graciously accepted our invitation to exhibit their works, to their families, and to all the people who were involved in making this project possible.

      Meeting with Curator Yukiko Koide

      The opening of this exhibit began with meeting Yukiko Koide. Having worked with western "outsider artists" such as Henry Darger and Bill Trailor, Ms. Koide approaches publications and exhibits with the conviction that the art work of Japanfs mentally handicapped must be viewed from a new angle. Exhibitions she has organized include "Metamorphosis" (Tokyo, Shiseido Gallery, 2001), which displayed a collection of 50 works by Judith Scott, an American woman with Down syndrome. The group of mystical works by Ms Scott, who is both deaf and mentally handicapped, powerfully moved visitors with their sublime representations of an internal world that is inexpressible in words. Many members from our society visited the exhibit in order to feel the impact of these exceptional works of art.

      The Founding of "Down Syndrome Art Creations"

      The Japan Down Syndrome Society has been operating the Down Syndrome Art Creations project since 2000 through a grant from the Japan Keirin Association. Our motto for this project is "To offer a place where artists with Down syndrome can display their art work, and by so doing, enlighten the public about Down syndrome." Our past three Down Syndrome Art Works projects were:
      2000 Tokyo Disney Land, Stage Performance
      2001 Yatsugatake Royal Hotel and Yamanashi Prefectural Museum, Collaboration of Poetry and Pictures
      2002 Kanagawa Prefecture Citizens Hall, Live Hip Hop Dance Performance

      Now, as we design the fourth event, we are motivated by the collective desire to "see more artistic pieces created by people with Down syndrome, and greater participation bythe general public." With these goals in mind, we recruited Ms. Koide.

      An Exhibition of Pure Art

      We sometimes hear the expressions "art by the disabled" or "outsider art." However, even without the label "disabled" or without any label at all, it was a wonderful surprise to learn about the existence of these moving works. On top of that, thanks to Ms. Koidefs research, we were introduced to artists of great creativity and originality here in Japan. Therefore, this year we decided to hold an exhibition which would highlight their works.

      In the Space Between "Down Syndrome" and "Art"

      Considering our intentions for this current "Down Syndrome Art Creations," there is no way not to include the words "Down syndrome." On the other hand, we would want visitors to appreciate these pieces for the pure art that they are, as if they had no label. We have become trapped in a contradiction. So we must leave it to all of you to make your own judgements. As you stand in front of each piece, this will likely seem a moot point.