BilbaoFormArte: where the disability becomes art and wins by a landslide.

I’ve owed you this post for more than a year and today, finally, and taking the advantage of the fact that this is the last one of this academic year, I think it’s one of the best moments to do so, like the end of “season”.

I invite you to know this project and some entrepreneurial women who, after many efforts, in 2013 launched BilbaoFormArte, a project that has something magical that engulfs you.

Entering BilbaoFormArte is going into a place full of colour, sensibility, sentiment, taste, “organized chaos” and art and creativity in abundance. And it’s that BilbaoFormArte was made a reality through a training centre that offers:

a personal and professional development program that uses artwork for people with mental and/or intellectual disabilities”.

In particular, it’s a multidimensional project that combines education through personal and professional training, work through new activity sites that place value on the talent and specific abilities that people with disabilities have, and the arts and culture as a mean of personal development, of creation of individual imaginaries and of social participation and interaction. Personally, I think that it’s a project that has everything necessary and that more people should know. Also, it needs a tailored physical space, because we can’t waste such “hidden” art of people with some disabilities, but very capable of going further with the (personal and professional) development after an age where the social and political strategies don’t consider it.

Nowadays, the users of BilbaoFormArte come from Steady Classrooms and Assignment Learning Classrooms of Primary and Secondary Education once they turn 21. One of the challenges of its promoters is to start receiving people derived from the Social Services department of the Provincial Government of Bizkaia.

The specific goals of this centre are:

  • To give the people with mental or intellectual disabilities the opportunity to continue with their personal development through art practice.
  • To create new professional opportunities in the areas of art, creation and creative industries, through the promotion of differential capacities and the participant’s wishes.
  • To move forward in social inclusion through the publication and exhibition of the artistic creations.
  • To break the invisible barriers with the rest of the society enabling a direct conversation with the public.

To know the beginning of BilbaoFormArte we have to go back to 2008, the year where two women, Cristina Bacete Díaz and Ana Urgoiti Guisasola, start shaping an idea based on a necessity which they are very sensitive about and around which they started training and keep doing it to this day.

Cristina is a graduate in Special Education from the UPV/EHU and a winner of the “Premio de Excelencia” to the best academic record of her class. Ana is a graduate in Fine Arts from the UPV/EHU, institution where she got the Master of Research and Artistic Creation (INCREARTE), and where she is doing the PhD right now with a thesis about the art education for people with mental or intellectual disabilities.

Both of them have great work experience in their area, they’ve worked in the “Die Schlumpers” gallery in Hamburg, Germany, and in “The Creative Growth Art Center” in Oakland, EEUU, centres where they have gone back to keep receiving professional training to train people with mental or intellectual functional diversity through creativity.

Cristina and Ana are two great professionals who have been capable of joining knowledge, experience, illusion and passion with the satisfaction of real needs of authentic people with so much talent, with the goal of offering them opportunities of development in every sense. I testify to this.

Of course, Cristina and Ana describe themselves as educators and not therapeutics, because they just sit down:

in front of a person interested in learning and growing, not of a person who needs therapy (because we don’t work with ill people in need of a cure, but with people with different abilities to deploy through creation)”.

As educators, they give each person what they need, promoting their own formative and personal development itinerary. Both of them believe that artistic practice is a way of expression that:

  • stimulates research,
  • allows you to look for and find your own path of (individual) creation,
  • encourages teamwork and
  • makes possible to analyze, offer and take criticism.

Moreover, they know that the different cognitive and motor processes instead of barriers, they can be abilities that enable the development of different sensibilities.

I encourage you to enter their page (if you haven’t already), and take a look at some of their artists’ work and at the anuual, intensive and personalized programs they offer, that, of course, combine with many activities (workshops, exhibitions, visits to museums, participation in competitions, galas and various events, open days, painting murals in “special” places, performances, participation in artisan markets and collaborating with BilbaoFormArte as a provider of services for travel agencies, congresses and other institutions and companies, among others).

Oh, they also admit visits. Right now, you can find them in Zankoeta street n. 1 A in Bilbao; or if you prefer it, you can contact them via e-mail or on the phone +34 94 607 68 95 /+34 655 60 18 77.

Thank you for making my visit a magical moment, full of gratitude, great artists, great taste and talent, and of enviable people. Congratulations for your daily job.

Today I leave you until September. Enjoy your holidays and recharge yourselves, so that next year will be a good one. THANK YOU, again, for following me and nurturing this blog.

Translated by María Ubierna Quintanilla and supervised by Arantza Arruti.

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