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Outside Sound: Live Show/Exhibit Credit: nick moncy , Nick_Moncy

The sounds of “art striking a chord” reverberated through the Rotunda Thursday night.

Outside Sound, a project that combines visual artwork by the disabled with music, showcased their works in a public event. All proceeds went toward the purchase of materials and equipment to continue the program.

The idea for this event came from composer and Outside Sound Director Chris Coyle, who had interacted with people with mental and developmental disabilities through three nonprofit art programs — Oasis, Center for Creative Works and Outside the Lines.

“I am a freelance musician and composer,” Coyle said in an email. “Outside Sound was a way for me to ‘respond’ to the fascinating artwork coming from these programs and their disabled artists.”

At a hall in the Rotunda, paintings and crafts from disabled artists were exhibited for sale. A few of the artists sat beside their artwork and talked about their pieces to those interested.

Stephanie Washington, whose portrait of the actor and martial artist Jim Kelly was on display, said, “I’m a cartoonist, and I get my ideas from characters that I see in movies, television and in real life.”

She added, “It feels good when I draw. Something’s wrong if I don’t draw.”

Attendees rotated through the hall, admiring the artwork and talking to the artists. Later, they gathered around the stage for the night’s highlight — the combination of music and art.

Coyle and his band played a few original compositions centered on a theme inspired from artwork by the disabled community.

In an arrangement titled “Animals,” Coyle and his band played a soft, low, lilting tune as drawings of a moose, a crab, different birds and other figurative creatures flashed on the screen. These drawings were all painted by the disabled.

Other arrangements featured different themes of art and accompanying music.

Brendan Cooney, the band’s keyboardist, spoke about the relation between the two media. “Music enhances the meaning of visual art,” he said. “What things mean to us is contextual. We associate an image with a sound or a memory. When you pair an image and a sound, you create a richer, more complex experience.”

Violinist Carlos Santiago touched on art’s ability to enrich the musician’s experience. “A lot of music for this exhibit is based on improvisation. The image we see shapes how we play,” he said.

In between songs, videos were shown documenting the process of how the disabled artists at different art programs created their work. In these videos, attendees watched jamming sessions, heard an artist deliberate the pricing of his artwork and listened to more artists explain the motivation for their pieces.

Jennifer Powers, the mother of one of the disabled artists involved in a creative arts program, described her own feelings about her daughter’s achievements. “I did not know my daughter was so talented in art — she didn’t get that from me,” she said.

Powers added that her daughter’s art “helps her express her personality,” and that through art, she “expresses things that she can’t express though words.”

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