Gallerist and PASC guest curator holds fundraiser to fund rare disease research

When Bridget Finn’s daughter was diagnosed with STXPB1, she turned to art for support. She says the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Pink Flower Heart by Promise Vos (2022)

One of the most important artistic endeavors that’s happening here in the City of Detroit is the work of the Progressive Art Studio Collective (PASC). A first-of-its-kind art and design studio and exhibition program for Detroit and Wayne County, their mission is simple: to support artists with developmental disabilities and mental health differences. They aim to advance independent artistic practices and build individual career paths in the art and design fields. This includes offering participating artists opportunities to exhibit their work.

Their latest show, “Affections,” is on display now through Aug. 28 at the PASC Detroit Pop-Up Gallery. It was curated by Bridget Finn, an art dealer and curator, who’s a partner in the gallery Reyes | Finn in Corktown. She joined CultureShift to talk about why this organization is so important to her.

Related: Progressive Art Studio Collective brings the arts to disabled adults in Detroit

Finn’s 2-year-old daughter, Florence, has a rare, spontaneously occurring genetic neurological disease called STXPB1. (Editor’s note: Florence is the daughter of WDET creative producer Sam Beaubien.) While Finn had already been working with PASC, she says the experience gave her job a whole new meaning.

“I think when you enter this world of rare disease, your perspective immediately shifts. There are ways in which I think now that I never would have been able to comprehend before.”

She says she, like many other parents, just wants her daughter to be able to be independent, self-sufficient and to have her needs met. In order to achieve this, she turned to what she knew: art.

“I knew that I had to put that energy into fundraising and visibility around this disorder because we have to cure it.”

Finn reached out to her contacts in the art world and organized an auction through FLOURISH, her fundraising endeavor dedicated to her daughter. She says the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“I could cry just talking about it … For the most part, every artist that we’ve asked to participate has agreed.”

The benefit auction will take place on Sept. 29 in New York City, hosted by Christie’s Auction House. All proceeds will directly support the STXBP1 Disorders Foundation.

With donations, she and the foundation hope to fund what’s called a “natural history,” and to develop five hospital centers dedicated to STXBP1 research. She says the first human trial is starting in November.

“This will lay the groundwork for getting those genetic treatments approved by the FDA when the time is ready.”

She says in addition to funding research, organizations like PASC offer critical opportunities and experiences for adults with disabilities.

“These programs are endlessly important, and I hope the City of Detroit and private funders get in there and really support these endeavors because they are so integral to balance in these people’s lives.”

Listen: PASC guest curator Bridget Finn talks personal connection to organization’s work.


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  • Sophia Jozwiak
    Sophia Jozwiak is the Digital Content and Communities Assistant for 101.9 WDET.
  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.