A compass directs a traveler north.
At the new One Door North art studio, clients with disabilities determine the direction.

A compass directs a traveler north.

At the new One Door North art studio, clients with disabilities determine the direction.

One Door North at 107 N. Main St. in McPherson is an expansion of the services provided within

Clayworks at Disability Supports of the Great Plains. Disability Supports provide individuals with disabilities creative outlets and income opportunities for those who would not be able to achieve competitive community-based employment otherwise.

Clayworks, which opened in 2010, allows these individuals to produce, create and sell works of clay. This gives them a way to express themselves while also earning 100 percent of their profits. Since it’s beginnings, items have been sold across the United States and internationally.

About 65 individuals use the McPherson services, which overlap with services provided at a Hutchinson location.

One Door North was opened in December 2012 as an expansion of these services. The space is located to the north of the Clayworks studio, thus named One Door North.

It was developed as an alternative creative outlet for individuals who wanted to work with art other than clay. Artists are already drawing, and will eventually move to painting, metalwork and other forms of art.

The space includes two main parts — a gallery and a studio.

The studio, run by studio manager David Olson, includes a large workspace and a flat screen TV, which can be used to play instructional videos or even live-stream instructional coaches from remote locations.

The gallery, on the east side of the area, is a space meant to showcase the work of community members. The work of Ron Michael of Lindsborg is on display, and plans are in order to feature a number of different works, such as children's drawings.

Navigation to North

When Clayworks was opened, President and CEO Rick Staab and other Disability Supports leaders did not anticipate an expansion like One Door North. But much like a compass, it was the artists themselves that pointed them in the right direction.

“The artists have done a lot of work at showing us the path to take to support them in their art, and I think it’s important for us to continue that journey with them,” Staab said. “Our artists are as much a part of leading the direction of this than anything else, and maybe the biggest part.”

For example, when Clayworks began, they purchased a potter’s wheel, not knowing if it was something at which the clients would be able to excel. The artists, however, went beyond all expectations and showed Clayworks staff that art was an outlet to express themselves. There are many examples of clients who have entered the studio with a shy spirit and continue to improve their artistic and social skills.

“In some cases, it’s the first time in their lives they’ve had the ability to express themselves in a way that’s totally theirs,” Staab said. “I’m actually thrilled and amazed at what they’ve had the ability to produce. It’s extremely exciting for us because this hasn’t been tried a lot.”

As the artist continued to show their hunger for more creative outlets, One Door North was born.

“We intentionally try not to have firm expectations because if we decide how it needs to be, then I think we lose how it can be,” Staab said. “I’d always much prefer to head in the path of experimentation and enlightenment and adapt along the way, than to be so firm in the conviction of what we think is possible that we forget everything else. I want to provide every creative outlet and opportunity. I want them to feel the pride that we take in their work and the pride they take in participating.”

The Thinkubator

Part of that creative outlet is the continued expansion of the facility on its west side. Hidden behind the veil of construction plastic lies an idea still in the works, a space Staab calls the Thinkubator. Although a firm direction hasn't been set yet, the CEO said the space will be both a physical space and state of mind in which the clients can create art.

“Our goal is to make them successful achievers at a level of their choosing in tangible ways now in ways we have yet to consider,” Staab said. “I think we can improve the earth one idea at a time. We’re certainly improving the earth as it exists for our artists.”

This, he said, happens through the universal language of art.

“I don’t consider them artists with disabilities because art transcends disability,” he said. “Art is art.”

The work at of these entities are funded through the Home and Community Based Services Waiver Programs. To learn more, find Clayworks on Facebook.

Contact Jenae Pauls at jenae.pauls@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel