Brushing Aside Differences
Brigitte Rozario | 13 Oct 2017 00:30
With this exhibition, Tan hopes to show that in art, there is no disability

Some children cannot fit into regular school. Their parents are at their wit’s end, trying one therapy after another. By the time they arrive at Tan See Ling’s door, they are resigned to the fact that they may never find a way to reach their children and help them develop.

Artist and teacher Tan doesn’t just take in special needs children. She also accepts typically-developing kids. In her art class, everyone learns to paint. They start with simple lines, moving on to circles and dots. Some are happy to be able to paint every week. Even though some of her students can’t speak, they express their joy with gleeful sounds instead of words. Her exceptional students move on to become artists in their own right, gaining fans around the world and exhibiting abroad.

This month, Tan and four of her students will be displaying their art at the Beyond Differences exhibition. It is the seventh annual show organised by Tutti Art Club, the branding chosen by Tan for her students.

There will be 36 pieces of art on display – six from her and the rest from Fitri Raslan, Nasreen Lyana Nasim, and siblings Goik Zerlynde and Zuwern. All the works are acrylic on canvas and prices start from RM500.

“We want to look beyond our differences, to stand together and show that in art there is no disability. Everyone is free to express their own work,” says Tan, whose paintings are on the horse theme.

One of her top students, Fitri, 22, will showcase his paintings, featuring the interiors of homes. Fitri, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has been attending Tan’s art class since 2008. He regularly takes part in exhibitions by special needs artists and his paintings have been bought by collectors in the UK and the US. Some of his works have also been adapted for batik products.