The beauty of Art & Soul is that is showcases the different ways we can express ourselves regardless of our ability level. That idea is what makes this annual event so special, according to event chair Erin Dees. “I love that it brings out a talent in practically everyone no matter their disability or skill level. Art is something that everyone can benefit from and this event benefits all of Easterseals Arkansas,” she says.
Art & Soul – held Tuesday, Nov. 6 at Christ the King Catholic Church’s Family Life Center – highlights artwork created through Easterseals A.R.T. Program as well as art from local, regional and national artists. A.R.T. (Artistic Realization Technologies) provides hands-on creative expression for children and adults with limited use of their arms and hands. Artists work with “trackers” via a laser attached to a headpiece or other methods of communication to create unique paintings. Trackers are volunteers who become the hands and arms of the artists, taking directives from them to create the pieces as visualized by the artist.
Erin, a kingergarten teacher by day, has been involved with Art & Soul for about eight years. She also operates her own art-centered business, Deesigns by Erin, which offers paint classes for children and adults. She says she hopes people leave Art & Soul with a better understanding and appreciation of all that Easterseals does for children and adults with disabilities. “Also, I hope that they will leave with some really great original artwork.”
This year’s featured A.R.T. artist is Mark. Eight years ago, Mark was a senior in college at the University of Central Arkansas with a bright future set in motion. He was active in youth ministry at New Life Church and was preparing to return to Guatemala to serve his first year after graduation in the mission field. However, on Nov. 21, 2010 his life took a different path when he suffered a traumatic brain injury. After seven months of hospitalization, he returned home with no ability to speak, eat, follow directions or have any control over his physical body.
“Miracle Mark,” as he is affectionately called, was surrounded by amazing friends and family who were diligent in using their own gifts to be difference-makers in his recovery. One of those friends was Mary Lynn Nelson, who brought the A.R.T. program to Easterseals Arkansas.
Witnessing Mark participate in the A.R.T. program left his family stunned as they watched him listen and follow directions. The program immediately started helping Mark make decisions with a final outcome in mind – something once taken for granted before the accident.
Proceeds from Art & Soul contribute to the A.R.T. Program to continue changing lives like Mark’s and also help serve the thousands of children and adults involved in Easterseals Arkansas’ educational and therapy programs. For tickets and more information, visit www.artandsoulevent.org.
“Art & Soul is a fun and casual event,” Erin says. “There will be a ton of great art available for the live and silent auctions. You can come and hear more about the wonderful things that Easterseals does, meet some of the patrons of Easterseals, and go home with some really amazing original art!”