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My heart quickened when I opened the latest issue of HandEye Magazine to read an article penned by Yumiko Sakuma about Shobu Gaskuen, a rehabilitation facility in Japan for mentally and physically challenged individuals. The facility opened in 1973 with residents working on projects as subcontractors. Then, when a new director came aboard in 1983, there was a shift from taking orders to making their own creations. Being fluent only in English and Southern, I have written a friend of mine (my thesis advisor, actually – a woman whom I absolutely adore) who lives in Japan for help in translating the web site and helping in finding out more about the organization. I am gobsmacked, as you might imagine, cheering right out loud when I read this sentence in the article, a quote from Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada who has visited and written about Shobu Gakuen: “The artists at Shobu Gakuen are free of value judgment and conventional ideas about what art should be. They live in a freer world than we do. So in a way it is natural that what they make is beautiful.” I see Nancy stitched and drawn and written and woven all through that sentence.


Oh, and those 3 brown things to the left of the stitched version of Nancy’s drawing? They are buckeyes. For good luck.


She is my developmentally disabled sister-in-law, Nancy,
and I am Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her.
Go here to start at the beginning and read your way current.
And pssst: there’s a pinterest board, too.