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The Kennedy Center

VSA International Art Program for Children with Disabilities
A Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program

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The Office of VSA and Accessibility, a Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, proudly presents an exciting opportunity for children with disabilities from around the world to display their artwork side-by-side in an online exhibition. A selection of artwork from the online entries will be chosen for a live exhibition in Washington, D.C.!

Deadline to submit: June 7, 2017
Who may submit: Children with a disability, grades pre-kindergarten–12 (or equivalent). Group projects are accepted as long as all artists are students with disabilities.

Artwork specifications: Both two-dimensional (preferred) and three-dimensional works accepted. We do not accept work larger than 18 x 24 inches.

We invite students with disabilities to share images of their artwork addressing this year's theme:
UBUNTU: Yo Soy...Je Suis...I Am...Because You Are

Through shared art experiences, our humanity becomes bound in the humanity of those around us. In Southern Africa this concept is called Ubuntu: a word that means "human-ness"or "humanity towards others."Colloquially, this philosophy becomes I am because you are. My humanity is connected to yours.

As the Kennedy Center celebrates President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday in 2017, our community is reflecting on the ideals President Kennedy championed in his lifetime: service, freedom, justice, courage, and gratitude. These ideals resonate with us because they are universal. In a world more connected than ever before, we see immense potential to create meaningful connections to our world and each other through art that reflects these ideals.

The fourth edition of VSA’s Teacher Resource Guide tied to these ideals and to the overarching theme of UBUNTU, provides eight lessons that can help you and your students explore what it means to make art that creates bridges, deepens connections, and changes our world for the better:

  • How Can I Help? (Grade level K-12)
  • Art Think Tanks Serving Us All (Grade level K-12)
  • The Road to Freedom (Grade level 5-12)
  • Just Be Just (Grade level K-12)
  • Shining a Light on Goodness In Our Midst  (Grade level 3-12)
  • I Am Who I Say I Am (Grade level 4-6)
  • Courage All Around Us (Grade level 9-12)
  • Expressing My Gratitude (Grade level 6-8)

How do you interpret the ideals of service, freedom, justice, courage, and gratitude? Show us!

Submit your artwork!
View the online gallery!

Please note: The call for artwork requires additional information for each entry:

  • About the Submitter - Name, Email, Phone and Relationship to the artist
  • About the Artist - Name, Age, Location, and Disability
  • Artist Statement - Describe the artwork. What is your artwork about?
  • About the Artwork - Title, Size, and Medium

Parental Permission Form

2016 Yo Soy...Je Suis...I Am...The World

Yo Soy... Je Suis... I Am...

View the online gallery

Children were asked to reflect on their personal cultural identities: How can I change the world I live in? What is unique about my world? The artworks shown here represent a variety of ethnicities, backgrounds, experiences, and demographic locations reflecting the differences and commonalities in us all.

2015 Yo Soy...Je Suis...I Am...The Future

Children's Art

View the online gallery

Children with disabilities were encouraged to imagine their future. Student-artists were asked to consider what their future holds: Who will I be? Where will I live? How will I change the world? In response, the artists help us see the environments in which they will live, learn and play, and explore how they can impact the future. The resulting artwork testifies to the vital role of arts education in unlocking every child's potential, not only in the arts, but in all facets of their lives.

2014 Yo Soy...Je Suis...I Am...My Neighborhood

Children's Art

View the online gallery

Children with disabilities were encouraged to create a portrait of themselves within the context of their neighborhood. What makes your neighborhood come alive? Interesting neighbors? Varied architecture? A great park or playground? Student-artists are encouraged to illustrate all the important people, places, and landscapes of their local space that shape who they are and who they will be in the future.


2013 Yo Soy...Je Suis...I Am...My Family

Student's art

View the online gallery

Student-artists in 2013 illustrate themselves among the people that provide love, support, and encouragement in their lives – their families! Portraying themselves with some of the most important people in their lives gives testament to the idea that family – no matter how big or how small – help shape who we are and provide the foundation for who we will be.