About Us

Board of Directors

Mary Cadera

Laurie Kearney

Rachel Shimp

Jamie Walsh

Art Teacher

Sharece Phillips, Art Education degree from New Hampshire Institute Of Art. 

Executive Director

Diane Knoll, OTR/L

A note from the founder, Diane Knoll, OTR/L

As an occupational therapist, I have worked over the past 13 years with people of all ages and types of disabilities. I have always found art to be the common thread of engagement for meaningful activity in people’s lives. I find this to be true in my personal life as well. When I remain active in some form of a creative process, I feel joy and an increased value in my own self-worth.

In December of 2014, I stumbled across an opinion piece in The New York Times titled “An Artist Who Wrapped and Bound Her Work, and Then Broke Free” by Lawrence Downes. The article went on to describe the life and work of Judith Scott, a woman with Down Syndrome who spent 35 years of her life in an institution. At 42, her twin sister decided to pull her out of the institution to live with her, and started sending her to the Creative Growth Art Center. She eventually began making elaborate wrapped sculptures of found objects within the studio, and the art world took notice. Her pieces are now shown around the world in exhibitions and museums. The part I found most important about her story was the change in not only herself, but how society viewed her. Were it not for someone providing her the opportunity of self-expression, the world would have missed out on the amazing work of Judith Scott.

I have the privilege of knowing people with disabilities because of my profession, but how often do we as a society really integrate on a daily basis? In Time Magazine’s article, Maria Shriver: We need to change the Game of How We Talk About Intellectual Disability, Shriver states:

“In the just-published Shriver Report Snapshot: Insight into Intellectual Disabilities in the 21st Century, we learned that while the institutions that warehoused people in the 60s and 70s have closed, nearly half of our country’s adult population still say they don’t know a single person with intellectual disability, and a stunning 1 in 5 don’t even know what an intellectual disability is.”

In the year 2015, although I believe those statistics to be true, I don’t find them acceptable. And this speaks only to intellectual disability, without even broadening the discussion to physical and mental challenges as well. I want to change those statistics in Seattle, and I believe Seattle needs and craves that change too.

In August of 2015, I made the trip down to Oakland and visited the Creative Growth Center. I needed to further explore this idea I was toying with about opening a similar organization in Seattle. Once I stepped foot into Creative Growth, it no longer became a “whim”, but something I felt deeply convicted to do. I left there understanding that the organization was not so much a place for people with disabilities to make art, but instead a studio for artists who just also happened to have a disability. And so here I am, searching for others to help me get this project off the ground. I realize I can not do it alone, and I believe that Seattle has a unique and progressive culture that will lead me to those individuals needed to bring this venture into fruition. And I hope it’s YOU!

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