On this episode, we uncover a unique program in Johnson County Kansas that enables and encourages commercial art-making by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Papercrete Works is a program created by Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS) that marries art, commerce, and recycling to create an opportunity for clients of JCDS to earn an hourly wage. I learned of the program’s existence when I visited their open studio at InterUrban ArtHouse.
The term Papercrete is used to describe a mixture of cement, water, and recycled paper that gets poured into molds to make flower pots, picture frames, paperweights, decorative bowls, and other art objects. The process requires a wide range of skill sets, and allows people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to put their skills to work for an hourly wage. Some people shred the recycled paper, some mix the concrete, others fill the molds, use fine motor skills to paint the items, and even learn sales and marketing skills when the items are sold at art shows or other events.
One of my goals for Uncovering Kansas is to help educate Kansans about interesting and innovative things going on in Kansas and to start conversations that discuss and challenge stereotypes. And I think Papercrete Works art studio does this. There are many ways to look at programs like this, but as soon as I walked into the Papercrete Works art studio, I knew this would be an enlightening interview for me. I sat down with Micah Wickstrom, Ben Koontz, Jaimie Cureton, and Deb Bartholomew to talk about the program. Michah is the Papercrete Works Program Coordinator, Deb is a JCDS Team Lead, and both Ben and Jaimie are clients of JCDS who are working for Papercrete Works.
I enjoyed learning about the success the program is having in just 2 ½ years. The program assists people like Ben and Jaime with necessary skills development to participate in the the community. To learn more about the program, check out their website. If you are in Johnson County, their open studio at InterUrban ArtHouse is on the 3rd Friday of each month.
The podcast about culture, travel, people, history, and enterprise in Kansas.