3 SEPT 2019

A Window Into Their Soul

By Melisa Ng

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Jannali Jesus Club was buzzing with activities tonight as members forayed into their first art-making session for the Art Show. Almost everyone got involved and those that didn’t also enjoy watching and just being around the action, as members painted and decorated their canvases with bits of fabric, paper, and other shapes. 

Dylan was particularly enjoying this opportunity as he drew shapes reminiscent of boats’ masks and the sea in hues of blue, yellow and green. An artwork he later named the ‘Beach’, it incorporated his love of boats, the Sharks footy team and his favourite colour, blue. His mum, noticed his elation at the end of the night sent a text to a leader at Jesus Club saying, “The art night at Jesus Club was a big success. Dylan was very excited and pleased with himself!” 

Art-making is enjoyed by many people in this world and is a useful medium for expression of self and creativity. But for people with intellectual disabilities, art can be especially powerful, as it lends a means to share thoughts and feelings they otherwise may not be able to verbalise or communicate.

In a video by the Great Big Story, Tom di Maria, director of Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, compares the artwork of people with disabilities to having a window into the person. ”They may or may not have had language, they may or may not been able to communicate with me. But they are making this work, that is really a window into their soul.” And Gabrielle Mordy, artistic director of Studio A, a Sydney-based studio for artists living with intellectual disability, describes how art is used to communicate their experience of the world in an article for Collective Hub in 2017, “The work that these artists make very much reflects our rich experience, but it’s not coming through an intellectual way of thinking. It’s coming through different ways of experiencing the world”.

Accordingly to the National Benefit Authority in Canada, art can even help people with disabilities develop better abilities to “verbally articulate their experiences”, by fostering communication between the right and left hemispheres of the brain; which are respectively responsible for memory hold and verbal communication. And indeed, for the renowned disability artist Dan Miller, art was the conduit that gave sounds and meaning to the words his mother tried to teach him to say as a child. “His mother tried to encourage him to speak by telling him how to spell words when he was a boy, but he never spoke them until he started to draw them”, said Tom di Maria of Creative Growth Art Center, where Dan has been making art since 1982.

But one of the most significant benefits Gabrielle has noticed in her artists is the transformation to their sense of identity and their value of themselves. “Now, they will introduce themselves as artists,” Gabrielle was quoted as saying, ”You hear it from the families as well, like the expression of pride and the glow that the families have when they come to exhibitions and seeing the recognition that their sons and daughters are getting.”

With so many people with intellectual disabilities forgotten and derided by society because of their condition, Jesus Club is proud to provide them with an opportunity to showcase their talent and skills in our upcoming New Life Art Show. We hope that as you view their artwork that you too will come to ‘see' and ‘know' them as people who are not only talented and creative, but most importantly, created in God’s image and given a NEW LIFE in Christ, just like each of us. 

The New Life Art Show will be exhibiting between 9-12 October 2019, at St Mark’s Anglican Church Northbridge. Come see the inspirational artwork from 13 Jesus Clubs in Sydney and beyond. For more information and to get tickets to our exclusive High Tea Fundraiser, visit Art Show

Dylan is 31 years old and a founding member of Jesus Club Jannali. He started going to Jesus Club after being invited by a close family friend, Alex, who is also a leader at Jesus Club. Through the years, Alex has noticed a gradual growth in Dylan’s knowledge and understanding of God. He since developed signs to communicate ‘God’, ‘prayer’ and ‘Jesus’ and is often keen to learn the reasons for Alex’s faith. Please pray for Dylan and other members as they continue to grow in knowledge and trust of Jesus Christ, that they will trust him as their Lord and Saviour and enjoy a friendship with God forever.

Learn more about the work at Jesus Club

A place to Belong for People with Intellectual Disabilities

A Life Loving People Living WIth Disabilities

When Only God Is Enough


Brown, A.D. (2012, February 28). Psychological Benefits of Art Therapy. Retrieved from

Gebilagin, L. (2017, September 26). This social enterprise will challenge your perceptions of intellectual disability. Retrieved from

Great Big Story. (2019, May 14). Giving Artists With Disabilities a Space to Thrive. Retrieved from

How Art Therapy Helps People With Disabilities. (2012, July 23). Retrieved from

New Life Art Show

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