IOWA ARTS COUNCIL | Community Support Advocates Win Governor’s Arts Award

Posted on Aug 13, 2018 in Artists, Creative Class News, MAINFRAME News

Congratulations to Community Support Advocates and their Momentum Art Studio (#104 in Mainframe Studios)!

Arts Group Helps People with Disabilities

Christina Smith didn’t develop the Momentum program to win any shiny awards. She did it to help people with physical and mental disabilities express themselves through art.

But the program’s new Governor’s Arts Award sure doesn’t hurt.

“This program is something I’ve been extremely passionate about for a long time,” Smith said. The award “gives us legitimacy to what we’re doing.”

As CEO and president of Community Support Advocates, in Des Moines, Smith founded the Momentum program first as a competition and exhibition in 1997. Two years ago, it expanded to offer workshops to underserved populations, particularly those with physical disabilities, brain injuries and mental-health challenges.

A mural adorns the Community Support Advocates studio in downtown Des Moines. (Photo: Clay and Milk)

Last year, Smith hired Shannon Kaster as a program coordinator to expand Momentum’s reach, move into an art studio, and enlist both disabled and able-bodied artists to provide instruction in different mediums.

“We opened the studio and asked ourselves, ‘How can people living with disabilities try art for free?’ and ‘Where can they have a safe space to create art and to be surrounded by it?’” Smith said. “But this is more than art therapy. We believe art can be transformative.”

Christina Smith (left) and Shannon Kaster of Community Support Advocates with Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Acting Director Chris Kramer at the Iowa Arts Summit in Ankeny.

The group continues to its work to reach a wider audience, generate income and foster greater understanding of mental-health and disability issues.

Central Iowa artists living with disabilities, brain injuries or mental-health challenges are encouraged to submit artwork for the “Momentum: Works of Growth and Discovery” exhibition Oct. 11 at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines.

— Jeff Morgan, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs