Artists Helping Artists supports self-expression


Assistant art site director helps people experiment with the abilities they have
Wednesday June 29, 2011 — Ryan Rogers

Assistant art site director Derek McElheron of Artists Helping Artists (AHA) says his work supporting an inclusive, community-based co-operative has been extremely rewarding because he’s able to help aspiring artists express their inner selves.

Supported by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), 51 per cent of AHA’s membership has special needs, and Derek says the co-op helps people who are unable to do certain things, use the abilities they do have to accomplish great art.

“It’s good for myself, and good for others, and that’s what AHA’s about, what BACI’s about, and why we find it such a great organization to be a part of,” he says.

“I help people with their art and try to get them to experiment with the abilities that they have,” says Derek. “We’re all about the creation of art, and the expression of the inner-self through art.”

Derek says it’s very rewarding to help people express themselves. There’s one man, for example, who is in a wheelchair and non-verbal, but by communicating through eye signals, Derek helps him choose colours and gestures to create art.

“He wanted a calmer type of artwork, so I was helping with the serenity he could create,” he says, adding that the man chose yellow and white watercolours.

The people BACI supports are able to share their art with their friends and family, and the paintings are hung at AHA.

The artwork is also featured in art shows throughout the Lower Mainland.

“(Friends and family) come out and purchase the art that’s created by the artists here, so it’s extremely satisfying for the artists, and for the people that love art,” says Derek.

Seventy-five per cent of each sale goes to the artists, adding some extra income from their work.

Membership in the co-op costs $90, and artists are welcome to drop in and create anytime.

If you have a story you would like to share with the BACI Blast, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)


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