Below is our recent interview with Ana McElroy-Netto from GracePlace Art:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to GracePlace Art project?
A: Grace is a young lady with Down syndrome who loves art. GracePlace Art is a project aimed toward turning Grace’s artwork into an opportunity for empowerment. With a little help from mom, Grace makes original artwork, and we turn it into cards, prints, and merch. Each GracePlace Art purchase allows Grace to practice basic life skills – she is very involved in the order fulfillment and packaging/shipping process and has daily business responsibilities that keep her constantly learning and growing. Each order also allows us to spread awareness and support the Down syndrome and special needs communities at large – we dedicate a portion of proceeds to giving back and empowering others. Through sharing her story, Grace hopes to promote a culture of kindness and inclusion, and inspire people of all abilities to follow their dreams, no matter how wild!
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: We’re very excited to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day (3/21) by giving back to the Down syndrome community right here in our backyard. Grace will be hosting a virtual art auction and donating 21% of the proceeds to our very own Gigi’s Playhouse of Orange County (all of the specific auction info is in our press release!). We are San Clemente locals and were so excited upon learning of the recent opening of Gigi’s Playhouse so close to home. Grace loves Gigi’s and always has fun participating in all their offerings, and we love that she now has these resources accessible to her. So it felt only natural to do our part to support this wonderful cause!
Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: We have a lot of fun new projects and offerings coming up in the next few months! We’ll be launching lots of new artwork and merch which we are wildly excited about! And we’ve got some pretty exciting collaborations on the horizon too so stay tuned!
Q: What is the best thing about your project?
A: In 2020 during the height of the pandemic when we were all stuck at home, Grace started picking art up a lot. It was sort of therapeutic for her, she just couldn’t get enough. We started seeing stacks and stacks of what we now call her signature design – ‘Work’ – all around her room. Every day she would tell us that she had to ‘go to work’ and she would find a spot to sit, line up all of her markers and make pages and pages and pages of this design – sort of like splotches of color in rows covering the entire sheet of paper. Being that the world collectively was struggling so much during this time, we wanted to bring a little light and spread a little kindness so we started using Grace’s ‘Work’ to turn into cards and send to friends and loved ones – a sort of pay it forward model, we would send a note on one, and then send a bunch of blanks so they could do the same! That’s what sparked the idea… we have so much art that Grace has been making here… and it’s all really beautiful! How can we turn this into something that allows Grace to pursue something she is excited about while also doing our part to make the world a better place? So we started GracePlace Art making boxes of cards out of Grace’s art, all with our mission on the back – in hopes that it would touch not only the buyer but also all the receivers that they gift their cards to!