Late in life, Nina Haggerty discovered the art of painting. She exhibited several of her pieces in art shows and won awards for her work. Six of her paintings were reproduced in a book entitled “Someone Like That” by Curtis Gillespie (Coteau Books). “Someone Like That” is a compelling journey through the lives of people with developmental disabilities, including Nina. Nina was born in 1916, a year after her sister Rita. Their mother was widowed in WWI, and the girls never saw their father.

Both children contracted polio, and as if life were not difficult enough, their mother married a man who was an alcoholic and violent when drinking. Their mother, unable to protect the girls, sent them to an institution. They spent over 50 years behind its walls. Nina and Rita’s final years, however, were happy ones. They were able to live together in their own home in the community, enjoying hobbies and taking annual vacations. This photo of Nina was taken when she was on an Alaskan cruise. Both women died within months of each other , Rita in 1998 at the age of 83, and Nina early in 1999, at the age of 82.

Creativity lies within all people and is best expressed through the Arts

An incredible initiative is launching in Edmonton. A vital need is being met in the community. On February 26th, 2003 The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts will open its doors. An art centre unique in its mission and unparalleled in its ambitions.

The Centre will provide adults with developmental disabilities an environment to create and showcase their creative talents. The centre is named after a local artist who overcame illness, abuse and extreme hardships in her life. Nina Haggerty’s life story is published in a book titled “Someone Like That” by local author Curtis Gillespie, and her art has inspired the vision of the centre. Nina is no longer with us, but her spirit will live on through the centre and its initiatives.

The Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts provides studio space and materials allowing adults with developmental disabilities to experiment with various forms of artistic expression. Local artists work alongside these developing artists to facilitate the process and adapt the media as required. Adjacent to the studio is a large gallery offering opportunity for these and other artists to display and sell their work. The gallery’s intent is to become a focal point in Edmonton for the exhibition of what is commonly referred to in the art world as Outsider Art. The term includes art produced by artists untrained in the normal conventions of art, and is considered to be raw and pure, free of academic influences.