Johnny, artist at RHD’s Imagine That!, wins Personal Success of the Year award

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Johnny B., an artist from RHD’s Imagine That! art program for people with intellectual disabilities, was honored with the Personal Success of the Year award from Eitas Developmental Disability Services of Jackson County.

This summer Johnny has presented a solo exhibition, been selected to display his artwork on billboards over downtown Kansas City, and had a number of other successes at Imagine That!, a creative arts day program for people with intellectual disabilities, works hard to ensure their artists have an equal place in the art community, and support them as they work hard to prove themselves creatively.

See photos from the award ceremony

Here is the nomination written by the Imagine That! staff:

“Johnny B. has participated in RHD-MO’s day program, Imagine That! for approximately 5 years. When he first came to us, John did not have a lot of interest in making and creating art; he was depressed and struggled to find interest in daily activities. I remember his mom once told me that he would spend his days sitting on a couch in his apartment. While John was adjusting to a new routine at Imagine That!, the studio staff had to change their perceptions and ideas about art-making to adapt to John’s interests. John is a story-teller at heart and is very passionate about religion, geography, and politics. His artwork soon incorporated these themes- whether it was vocal recordings expressing his personal beliefs or humorous anecdotes influenced by his personal experiences of historical events and pop culture from the 1960’s through the 80’s. John became known for “Johnny Mondays” where his comical, and sometimes off-the-wall, one-liners were posted weekly on the studio’s blog. Over the last several months, John has become more engaged in the art-making process and it is apparent that he has a unique sense of humor. He selects images from a fashion magazine and draws new faces for the models. He then decides what that person is doing or saying. John writes this as staff spells out each word for him. He has created quite a large portfolio and has acquired many new fans and admirers of his work. He also recently wrapped up filming a short movie titled, “Miami Buice”. In addition, John has two major achievements as an artist in 2018. He is preparing for a solo show of his work this summer at a local gallery, Plug Projects. Also, this fall, one of his fashion magazine collages will be displayed on a billboard in the Crossroads Arts District. This recognition of John the artist, and not John the artist with a disability, is what the staff of Imagine That! strive for. John has been given the freedom to express himself and he is finally being recognized for who he is. One day I asked John what his goal in life is. He responded, ‘To make people laugh.’ Well, he has definitely met his goal.”