Press Release

January 12, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT: Sydney Ritter | [email protected] | 480-874-4663 

Art, poetry guide artists toward confidence in new Scottsdale Arts exhibition 

Billy M. creates a self-portrait for the Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation exhibition “What Makes Me Me,” opening Jan. 21 at the Center Space gallery inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. 

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — “What Makes Me Me,” a new exhibition from Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, will show how making art helps individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) gain confidence in themselves, exercise empowerment in making aesthetic decisions and communicate who they are to you. 

The exhibition opens Jan. 21, 2022, in the Center Space gallery at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and runs through May 2. The artists of “What Makes Me Me” are members at Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) and The Opportunity Tree, and the exhibition is curated by Laura Hales, curator of learning and innovation at Scottsdale Arts. 

“By showcasing the artistic expressions of 35 adults with I/DD, this exhibition aims to increase understanding, empathy and appreciation for this often-overlooked population,” Hales said. “The artists enjoyed the process of creating the work, evidenced by the joyful expression inherent in each of the pieces. As they created self-portraits, they learned and shared things about themselves and we can see their individuality through this collection of paintings, ceramics and poetry.”  

Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation worked with teaching artists from a variety of mediums to guide the exhibition artists through a series of art-making and poetry-writing workshops, creating original self-portraits that express their uniqueness and creativity. Teaching artists included Tiesha Harrison, Ellen Murray Meissinger, Therosia Reynolds, and Danielle Wood. 

“Working with the artists on this project was an amazing, memorable and really fun experience,” Meissinger said. “The workshop participants were enthusiastic about art making and a delight to work with and get to know. Each artist made individual choices about combinations of drawing, painting, and color palette to achieve a personal, expressive, and compelling self-portrait.” 

“What Makes Me Me” will be held in conjunction with “Beverly McIver: Full Circle,” an exhibition running Feb. 12 – Sept. 4 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). “What Makes Me Me” aims to shine a light on a population that is often overlooked by society. McIver is a caregiver to her older sister, Renee, who has I/DD. Their story is lovingly documented in the film “Raising Renee,” which can be streamed on Amazon Prime. 

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the gallery. Light refreshments will be served. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is located at 7380 E. 2nd Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. For details, visit
Learn more about the exhibition at