"I Have Marks to Make" is the longest-running public program and community exhibition at the Telfair Museums, and for a good reason.
According to Harry DeLorme, senior curator of education at Telfair Museums, the exhibit is an all-inclusive, all-ages display celebrating therapeutic art making.
"The process of making art can be a healing act for just about anyone," DeLorme says. "You don't have to be a trained artist to get something out of making art."
"I Have Marks to Make" started 20 years ago as a small exhibition showcasing art from the city of Savannah's therapeutics program, and has now grown to include work from patients in local hospitals, individuals with special needs and students from Savannah schools.
"The show is different than some you see elsewhere," he adds. "It's not an artists with disabilities show; the message is much larger. It's about how art making is really this wonderful, empowering experience."
And DeLorme says it's not limited to visual arts.
"We have poets, musicians - all forms of art."
He recalls a young girl with autism who submitted an animated film that was shown.
"She made this funny, lively animated film .. Everyone was laughing ... and it was terrific to see her get that kind of validation through her art," DeLorme says.
The opening reception will take place from 2-5 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Jepson Center and will feature poetry and prose readings, testimonials, spoken word performances and music. Speakers include representatives from the artists' group from Savannah's VA Clinic and their instructor, local artist Kenneth Martin. Local poet Robert Cohen will also read selections from his new book.
Katharine Dahl will also return to speak at the opening.
"She is a professional artist based in Atlanta who had a traumatic brain injury," DeLorme says. "She wrote a poem about her struggle of coming back to art and that's where the title of the exhibit originated from."
DeLorme says the opening and exhibition are different each year, and there is "always something really moving that comes out of this."
"We see people who have really taken to making art and many have talked in moving ways about how art has benefited them."
DeLorme, who has been involved with the exhibit from the beginning, says these openings can be "a little free form and people can just show up unexpectedly to give a testimonial or performance."
He recalls an unexpected performance one year from a father who came to the opening after his son, a former participant in the exhibit, had passed away.
"This gentleman with a saxophone ... came forward and wanted to perform for the audience. He played 'What a Wonderful World,' and the entire audience was just in tears. Mr. Hudson has returned almost every year to close out the reception.
"That's how this show has evolved. Wonderful folks return and come back ... It makes us realize what we are doing here is really important to people and we want to continue this program."
A sneak peak of the exhibition will take place during a free family day from 1-4 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Jepson Center.
The afternoon includes art-making activities for families and a demonstration by longtime "I Have Marks to Make" artist and teacher Kenneth Martin. Jacksonville-based artist Liz Gibson will give a performance titled "Be Brave, Make Your Mark" at 3 p.m.
Gibson, who was born with seven fingers, combines her experiences with characters, storytelling, songs and props to express her journey to overcome adversity.
The exhibit will be on display until Jan. 4.