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For Closter Artist With Down Syndrome, Art Is About Ability

Painter Andrew Weatherly of Closter. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Weatherly
"Early Morning" by Andrew Weatherly. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Weatherly
"Night Lights" by Andrew Weatherly. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Andrew Weatherly

CLOSTER, N.J. — Sometimes Closter artist Andrew Weatherly works at Target, plays tennis and coaches basketball.

Other times, he’s a painter, photographer and poet.

The 24-year-old, born with Down Syndrome, is showing his work in exhibits both here and abroad.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Weatherly will meet and greet the public at “The Art Beyond a Syndrome” in the Sandy Bennett Art Gallery at bergenPAC in Englewood .

The one-hour event is only for ticketholders for the Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes show, which starts at 8 p.m.

Weatherly’s work has been exhibited the past three years in galleries throughout New England and in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

He’s also had shows at two venues in England.

In 2014, he was named one of 15 Emerging Young Artists for the Kennedy Center’s VSA International Art Exhibit, “The Journey,” which included his painting, “Winter Worlds.”

“The Art Beyond a Syndrome” runs through Sunday in Englewood.

Daily Voice caught up with Weatherly on the eve of his meet and greet.

DV: When and in what context did you first pick up a paintbrush, and what about making images spoke to you?

AW: I have always loved to paint and to write. I've painted since I was in elementary school.

Painting provides a movement and a flow of colors and textures on paper and canvas.

Through painting I often express my writing in color versus language. This is an avenue of expression that allows me to share my thoughts.

DV: What theme(s) run through your work?

AW: For the most part I paint abstractly from images that are in my poetry and photography.

Most of my work features a flowing and blending of thoughts and ideas. Movement and color are important themes in my painting and in my photography.

DV: How does your artwork advocate for people with disabilities?

AW: By bringing my work to galleries and exhibits, I am able to meet people and let them see the abilities, not a “dis-ability.”

My artwork has been accepted in several venues where people are surprised to find out that I have Down Syndrome.

It's really all about the ability, and not being labeled or boxed in, to help people realize there are gifts in each one of us.

DV: What is your ultimate goal for your body of work?

AW: My ultimate goal is to work as an artist, to expand my work and really get it out there. I want to continue advocating for abilities. I'd like to work in the art field, too.

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