Mikaylas Voice 2Two dynamic exhibits that focus on inclusive programming are coming to the Banana Factory in Bethlehem this winter. The shows, “Mikayla’s Voice” and “Life Accessible,” focus on two different ways that persons with disabilities are able to experience and access the visual arts.

Mikaylas Voice 1Mikayla Resh, a young woman from Nazareth who was discovered to have severe, permanent brain damage when she was only 5-days old, has learned to create large acrylic paintings using just the wheels of her wheelchair. As part of the “Mikayla’s Voice” exhibit in the Banana Factory’s Hallway to the Arts Dec. 18-Feb. 7, viewers will discover the amazing work of Resh, as well as other students the 19-year old has taught through the Wheels of Friendship program started by her and her mother, Kimberly Resh. During PEEPSFEST, Dec. 30-31 at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, Wheels of Friendship will also be doing demonstrations of their accessible art program.

“Our goal is always to include students with disabilities and their peers at school when we create these paintings,” Kimberly says. “It’s important to show the children that everyone can be included.”

From Jan. 8-Feb. 28 in the Banko Family Gallery, photographer Stephen Cunic of Allentown will be showcasing 3-D prints for the visually impaired as part of his “Life Accessible” exhibit, which features braille techniques and labels. Cunic prints his images multiple times, which causes the ink to build up and create different reliefs. The resulting prints feature various layers and textures that visitors can touch, which ultimately helps those with vision impairments discover and enjoy artwork they otherwise could not see.  Cunic’s largest piece, a 35-inch by-48 inch landscape of Lone Pine, Calif., allows visitors to feel the texture of the rock-covered mountains and the grainy surface of the sand, while other works allow visitors to trace the hairs of Alaskan Mountain Horses.

“The Banana Factory is excited to bring these two wonderful exhibitions to our galleries, helping to make the arts more accessible to a broader audience through innovative and creative approaches to art,” says ArtsQuest Sr. Director of Visual Arts Stacie Brennan.

The opening receptions for “Mikayla’s Voice” and “Life Accessible” will be held Jan. 8, 6-9 p.m., as part of the Banana Factory’s First Friday open house. Both exhibits are part of the Lehigh Valley Arts Council’s year-long Arts & Access celebration, commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For more information on the Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem, visit www.bananafactory.org.