Teaching Artists sing and ASL interpret songs from past Art of Me performances. Photo by Jason Bucklin.

The Art of Me

The Art of Me explores positive self-expression, self-discovery, and self-identity through a variety of artistic disciplines – including visual art, theater, poetry, music, and dance – and culminates in a original public performance and/or portrait photography exhibition. 

The Art of Me – Public Performance: We invite participants to explore what makes them who they are using various artistic mediums to express their interests and identity. They fill in the blanks to prompts like, “I am….” and “My strengths are…” and “I believe…” to create poems; set the poems to music; and devise choreography through structured improvisations. Every step of the way, participants create, rehearse, and perform alongside professional actors, directors, dancers, and musicians culminating in a unique collaboration of an original theatrical performance. There are added benefits of the artistic process that take place as we create, including learning how to take feedback, how to improvise and adapt, how to revise and improve, how to stay focused on repetitive tasks (rehearsing over and over!), and how to work collaboratively with fellow artists while finding ways to insert one’s unique voice.

The Art of Me – Portrait Photography Exhibit: The exploration of identity follows a similar process as the performance model. In the portrait photography version the work culminates in a public exhibit featuring a diptych of every participant (two portrait photographs, side by side). Participants work with a professional photographer in a portable studio to create self portraits, as well as to direct a fellow participant in the creation of a second portrait.

The Art of Me can be adapted to be relevant for individuals with disabilities at every stage of life, from ages 5 through retirement.

  • School Programs: K-12 classrooms and Transition Programs
  • Adult Programs: Adult Day Programs or disability service providers serving individuals ages 21+
  • Community Programs: arts organizations, community organizations, friendship clubs, Parks and Recreation

Want to learn more? Read our residency FAQs.

I was skeptical earlier this summer as I signed my daughter up for ‘The Art of Me,’ your summer program with Valley Friendship Club. Will she even participate? How will she fare next to her friend who regularly engages in fantasy play and dress up? Is this the right thing? Last evening was the public performance of ‘The Art of Me,’ and my daughter blew me away! …as did every other participant on that stage! I witnessed the power of your artists and the arts to draw every one of the participants out of their comfort zone. They rocked! It was powerful. Im a believer now.”

– Regina, parent of an Upstream Arts participant

 Curious about bringing Upstream Arts to your school or organization?

Contact us at [email protected] to set up a 1 hour FREEBIE!

This session – absolutely free of charge – can offer insight into how we work to support individuals with a range of cognitive, developmental, emotional, behavioral, and physical disabilities.