Art for All
SpinOff Studio gives adults with disabilities a space to express themselves through art and adventure.
Unfinished art projects and supplies cover the tables inside SpinOff Studio in downtown Gardiner. With a mission to teach art, social, and wilderness skills to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this nonprofit organization offers a variety of training programs, from painting and printmaking lessons to culinary classes and camping trips.
“One of the first things we do to help change our students’ lives is allow them to feel equal,” says program manager Jonathan Price, who helped launch SpinOff six years ago in downtown Hallowell. The program later relocated to a building just outside of downtown Gardiner, then in 2017 it moved to a larger studio space in Gardiner’s historic downtown. Around 35 participants take classes at the program, which has been expanded to include quiet workspace for students learning to write poetry and plays, and to record music. “We give our students opportunities to create and feel like they are a part of their chosen community,” says Price.
One of those opportunities is a weekly dinner series where Price teaches his students how to prepare meals and dine in a group setting. With donated meats from Grace Pond Farm in Thomaston and using recipes from the Lost Kitchen and Vinland, Price guides his students as they shop for, prepare, and cook dinner three nights a week. His favorite step is the final one: when the students gather around a table in a family-style setting.
Students in the program also practice yoga and meditation or go on short hikes to practice wilderness skills. During daytime sessions, students learn art techniques such as photography and how to work with textiles. Students are encouraged to hang their work on the studio walls, which double as a gallery. “When you come from a vulnerable background and are trying to express yourself, having a safe space to do that is important,” Price says. The gallery is open to the public, and on family art nights, SpinOff students work on art projects with local families. “It takes a whole community,” Price says. “As they support us, we support them by giving our students certain skills so they can give back to the community.”