The Talented Artists at SDRC

Waterfront park mural by revision

The San Diego Regional Center (SDRC) stands as the largest non-profit organization in San Diego and Imperial Counties, dedicated to serving over 41,000 individuals with developmental disabilities. Serving as the initial point of contact for those in need of services, SDRC collaborates with community partners to deliver essential skills, support, encouragement, and advocacy, fostering an environment for individuals to thrive.
Within the diverse group of individuals served by SDRC, goals are achieved every day, and unique talents are not only recognized but also cultivated. Through this collaborative effort, SDRC and its partners strive to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those with developmental disabilities.

Highlighted here are just a few of these talented individuals and some of the teams that helped them along the way.

Revision serves as a valued provider for SDRC, offering a unique blend of art, culture and social practice within the context of a creative workspace. In April 2022, Revision received recognition from the County of San Diego for delivering high-quality experiences to marginalized individuals. This acknowledgment coincided with the County’s initiative to enhance inclusive work opportunities for the neurodivergent population. Revision was specifically commissioned for a mural at Waterfront Park. To create the mural a group of Revision Artists, who themselves experience various forms of disabilities, contributed ideas reflecting themes of disability, diversity, unity, and inclusion.

Santiago Lopez is a 21-year-old illustrator and storyteller. He has earned recognition as one of 15 emerging young artists with disabilities by the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. In February, he will embark on a journey for professional development classes in D.C. where his creations will be featured in a national traveling exhibition. Santiago expresses his artistic mission, stating, “I want my art to initiate conversations around the intersections of my Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and LatinX. To spark a shift and flip the script, I search for hidden narratives that whisper beneath the surface.”

Poli Despaigne is a skilled, creative, and determined wood artisan who has triumphed over various challenges associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to master his craft. He meticulously crafts beautiful pens from wood and acrylic blocks, showcasing a level of precision and dedication to his work. His mother, Jamaye, shares insights into Poli’s communication journey, noting, “He does not express a lot in written language or conversation.” At the age of 13, Poli turned a corner and discovered woodturning, a skill that became a transformative force. Today, he owns his own business, “Poli’s Woodcraft,” where he sells his meticulously crafted pens online.

Alex Nichols, a talented San Diego artist on the autism spectrum, channels his self-expression through the mediums of weaving and painting. Alex uses a Saori loom and hand-weaving techniques to craft dynamic and unconventional wall hangings. He blends textures and vibrant colors using yarn, as well as unexpected materials. Alex shares, “I create ‘Memory Weavings’ to honor people.” His inspiration for this unique art form began with a poignant tribute to his grandfather following his passing. Utilizing his grandfather’s tie collection, belts, favorite shirts, and sweaters, Alex carefully cut these items into strips and wove them into a tapestry of memories. This first “Memory Weaving” hangs in Alex’s home serving as a tangible connection to his beloved grandfather.


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Esteban Villanueva