The Arc of Anchorage is an organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through their numerous services like care coordination, short-term assistance and referral, community living services, family support services, behavioral health services, community enrichment and quality of life program, nursing services, supported employment services, and a recreational center.
The Arc has recently added one more service to its already-long list: an art gallery named Sparc, a creative place which attempts to unite individuals of all abilities. The name of the gallery is a play on the words “spark,” as in a spark of artistic creativity, and “Arc.” It is located at 425 D Street in downtown Anchorage.
This art studio aims to make the Arc’s vision a reality by encouraging Anchorage to be a community that recognizes and embraces people of all abilities. Sparc will offer a space for artists to participate in art mediums such as ceramics, stained glass, painting, beading, printmaking and Legos.
“The Arc has had an art program for 15 years or longer. By obtaining this space, we are able to offer a wider variety of mediums to work with, as well as becoming more a part of the community being downtown,” said Lacie Stiewing, art instructor at Sparc.
Sparc hosted a First Friday event on June 6 and plans to host other first Friday events in the future. Art classes, where anyone from the community can register online and participate, are also on the agenda for this fall.
“The new space has already placed the Arc’s art program more into the public eye,” said Jacquelyn McGary, senior public relations specialist at the Arc.
Stiewing said Sparc benefits its clients by offering a therapeutic outlet. She recalled a story told to her by a person who worked with the Arc for 17 years.
“An individual, who couldn’t connect with anybody and wasn’t very verbal, was brought into an art room and seemed to calm down a little bit, although he wouldn’t really do anything,” she said, “until one day they put a pencil. After a while of putting the pencil in his hand he eventually began to draw, which in turn lifted his spirits.”