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The Daily Wildcat


Mini MOCA inauguration at ArtWorks

Caroline Bailey
ArtWorks artists pose with the new Mini MOCA outside of the ArtWorks building on March 15. ArtWorks promotes community learning through artistic expression and interactions between adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and University of Arizona students.

ArtWorks is an outreach program housed in the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Arizona. The program was created to promote community and learning of the arts between adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. On Friday, March 15, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson celebrated the opening of its third Mini MOCA at ArtWorks on the University of Arizona campus.

The ArtWorks artists, along with their friends and families, gathered together to cut the ribbon covering the Mini MOCA to officially signify the opening of the display. After the ceremony, the attendees continued celebrating with food and games inside their studio. 

Harrison Orr and Brad Biddlecome prepare to cut the ribbon on the new Mini MOCA outside of the ArtWorks building on March 15. ArtWorks is an outreach program at the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Arizona.

“The Mini MOCA is a great project because it really connects our people to other artists in the community,” Elizabeth Vargas, instructional specialist and program coordinator at ArtWorks, said. “We invite people to come and talk to us, make art and put it into our Mini MOCA. It’s a great opportunity to bring our communities together.” 

The intention behind the newly opened Mini MOCA exhibit was to display the projects created by the artists at ArtWorks and to bring people together through a common interest. At the installation, community members can bring their art to display in the Mini MOCA or take home a project they see and like. It’s similar to the free libraries where a person can give and take a book. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson is a prestigious part of Tucson that displays widely renowned art from acclaimed artists. In addition to these recognized art pieces, the museum sees value in allowing all members of the community to be a part of the collection, whether it is at their main location or around the city in displays like the Mini MOCA.

“It’s important to bring art into local communities and out of the museum and institutions. It provides people with a free way to share, create and take art and to do that in their community,” Harrison Orr, former education manager at MOCA, said. “ArtWorks, of course, is a very important part of the UA campus and Tucson community, providing a space for artists to learn and work on their craft. So it seemed like a perfect matchup with Mini MOCA.”

Since its opening in 2016, the ArtWorks program has continued to make a difference in the lives of adult artists and the community. 

“Oh, it’s fantastic. I love it!” artist Victoria Pisano said about the newly opening Mini MOCA. “I love coming to ArtWorks. It’s like a second home to me.”

Victoria Pisano beams next to her self-portrait hung in the ArtWorks building on March 15. “The cookies are the ones my dad makes,” Pisano said, referring to the drawings in her portrait.

ArtWorks provides a safe space of growth and understanding that allows artists like Pisano to find their passion through art. 

“I love doing watercolors; you can just lose yourself in it and I just like doing it,” artist Jack McHugh said. “I really like to put my feelings in my art pieces. It’s really fun.”

Jack McHugh smiles for a portrait in the ArtWorks building on March 15. For McHugh, art is a way to express emotions and his favorite medium for painting is watercolor.

ArtWorks is located at 1509 E. Helen St. and the gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. The gallery is also open for studio tours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stop by to see the Mini MOCA for yourself or to join the ArtWorks community!

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