Muhammad Imran Zulkifli, a 17-year-old boy with Down Syndrome found the beauty of art when he was exposed to abstract canvas painting by his teacher in 2013. He has been in love with it since then.

Muhammad Imran who studies at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bandar Sunway under the Special Education Integration Programme recently had the chance to exhibit his painting titled “Illumination” under the “Kindness is Easy” project by Generating Opportunities for Learning Disables (GOLD).

With ZHAN | Art Space, Jaya One as its authorised art dealer, the exhibition featured 30 exceptional art pieces by 15 young adults with special needs.

Established in 2000 by a group of teachers and parents from SMK Bandar Sunway, GOLD acts as a rehabilitative vocational training centre for secondary school graduates with special needs and learning disabilities. It aims at empowering young adults to have a productive life and live independently despite their disabilities.

Muhammad Imran’s parent, Puspayanti Mohd Asraf said: “Imran has produced an artwork which is hung proudly in our home.

“In addition to art class, Imran also enrol in drum lessons and animation classes. He has always been interested in music since he was a kid. Recently, we played in a live band as a family in a performance where Imran took the role as the drummer.

Muhammad Imran Zulkifli proudly showcasing his painting titled “Illumination” exhibited at the ZHAN Art | Space, Jaya One.
Muhammad Imran Zulkifli proudly showcasing his painting titled “Illumination” exhibited at the ZHAN Art | Space, Jaya One.

“Having gone through different learning experiences has given Imran confidence and made him a well-rounded individual.

His sensitivity and friendly nature are the winning traits in drawing people closer to him,” said Puspayanti.

She added that Imran receives the education he needs to enhance his potential for a better future.

“GOLD serves as a platform for special needs children to broaden their horizons.

In the past, GOLD has sponsored camping trips for the special needs children for the kids to experience independence, away from their usual home environment,” she added.

Another artist, Mohammad Ashiddiq Jahufar, 18, shared that he enjoyed creating art on canvas with his peers but he has shifted his interest from canvas to the digital realm.

His commitment and resilient mindset have allowed him to successfully produce several animated festive videos.

Ashiddiq is also the creator of “Infinite Help” — a mobile application for individuals with special needs. Now in its final testing phase, “Infinite Help” is targeted to be available for download on Google Play Store by 2020.

GOLD founder Juairiah Johari said disabilities are never the obstacles for these young adults. Through proper guidance by art teachers, these young adults are able to pick up the correct brush skills and produce beautiful art pieces that reflect their inner joy and happiness.

“Over the past 20 years, GOLD has strived to make an impact and enhance the lives of these young adults. I am confident that with this exhibition, these young adults are provided with the right opportunity and platform to showcase their talent and resilience in life through art.

“By exhibiting their art pieces in a public space, it would be a step forward to a brighter future,” she continued.

ZHAN Art | Space co-founder Dr Tong Gin Chee who was also present at the opening ceremony said: “We believe that talent has no limits and art is in the eyes of the beholder.

“In giving these art pieces a spotlight in ZHAN Art | Space, we strongly believe that it will add strength to the gallery’s commitment to uplifting emerging artists and showcasing contemporary fine arts.”