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Artist with disability showcases her work in ‘fabulous’ Calgary exhibit

WATCH: On a bleak and grey wintry day, coming across some unexpected colour is definitely a nice surprise. As Gil Tucker shows us, in one corner of Calgary, it’s brightening up peoples’ days in more ways than one.

Creating her paintings has been a big part of Amber Harriman’s life for the past 10 years, and now the Calgary woman is excited about a new opportunity to showcase her work.

“Art is freedom,” Harriman said. “You can do whatever you want with it.”

Being an artist has helped her overcome some persistent challenges.

“I have a learning disability,” Harriman said. “My struggle is reading [and] writing, so school and stuff is difficult for me.”

READ MORE: 17-year-old Ontario artist inspires children with autism and special needs to paint

Settling in to work with her paint and brushes has improved Harriman’s ability to focus her mind.

“Art means a lot,” she said. “It gets me into this place of calmness.”

Harriman is enjoying the chance to share her talents at the Arts Commons complex in downtown Calgary.

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She’s one of seven artists living with disabilities whose work is on display in the Window Galleries along a hallway of the complex.

READ MORE: Photography exhibit shows spina bifida in new light

The exhibit is part of the SPARK Disability Art Festival.

“The exhibition is called ‘Changemakers,'” SPARK organizer Roxanne Taylor said. “To see it come together is super exciting for me!”

The art will remain on display in the Window Galleries until Dec. 8.

“The outcome of this show is that these artists will have the tools that they need to go off and approach other galleries,” Taylor said. “And become that next wave of professional artists living with a disability.”

READ MORE: Lethbridge art program helps people with disabilities and chronic pain: ‘You’re not in this alone’

Some of the people passing by the exhibit are feeling a special connection with the work.

“[It’s] fabulous!” Pamela Phillip said. “My boy is autistic and he did not have this outlet, so I’m pretty blown away.”

“It’s really nice that I can exhibit something that I’m proud of,” Harriman said.

Phillip said it’s definitely art that Harriman deserves to be proud of.

“The colours are just — wow!” she said.

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