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A better life through art

A better life through art

Jun 13, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

College and CES join forces in gallery show

Nancy Croston loves green.

She loves the color so much she tries to use it in every one of her paintings. Croston discussed her love of the color as she wore bright green flip flops and stood in front of her green painting.

"My favorite thing to do is paint flowers," Croston said. "Green and yellow flowers."

Croston was one of 45 artists displaying her artwork Thursday at opening of the Pathways of expression Exhibit at the Robert A. Peck Arts Center Gallery at Central Wyoming College.

The exhibit, which continues into July, showcased artists with special needs from Community Entry Services, the organization that offers a wide range of support services for adults and children with disabilities throughout central and western Wyoming.

Art partners

CES developed a partnership over the last two years with CWC to provide art education classes for adults with developmental disabilities.

Art instructor Linda Johnson said most of the students had worked on their art projects since October and used different mediums such as pottery, printmaking, watercolors and copper.

"We had art classes four times a month," Johnson said. "Once a week everyone would come together and work on a different project that really honed in on their creativity. A lot of the artists would draw the art themselves."

Johnson said some of the artists used crayons on their watercolors before using paint and would paint along with Johnson as she demonstrated painting techniques.

Those who chose to do printmaking had the opportunity to draw designs by themselves.

"Many of the students have been excitedly anticipating the art show for months," Johnson said. "They knew they couldn't take home their artwork because it was going to be on display for their family and friends to come and look at."

Artist comments

The art students were given name tags the evening of the art showcase and were told to match their name tags with the names listed next to the pieces of art.

Brittany Treese, 23, pointed with excitement at the metal stamping of a butterfly that she created during an art session.

Eric Roberts told everyone he liked fish, and fish were the inspiration for the watercolor painting he created.

"My painting has a fish in it, and it is blue," Roberts said.

Brenda Maxson, the coordinator for the CES Day-hab program, helps plan transportation so the students can travel to the art classes.

"This program has been wonderful because it allows these special needs individuals the opportunity to use their physical creativity," Maxson said. "Having these art classes gives everyone a sense of accomplishment. They are able to be who they want to be, and that is the most important thing of all."

Creativity expanded

Johnson said that by offering these art classes on the CWC campus, people supported by CES have been able to explore their creative abilities.

"I have been asked all week by the students when the art show was coming because they could not wait to show everyone their work," Johnson said.

Funding for the art classes was provided through the Wyoming Arts Council and private fundraising activities, and the Riverton Art Guild provided assistance with the art show.

Shawn Griffin, the CEO of CES, said the event was started to give the art students an opportunity to show off their art to family and friends.

"You can look around the room tonight and see all of the happy smiles because this event gives everyone something to be happy about," Griffin said.

Clayton Allard, 65, who grew up in Shoshoni, created a copper embossed squirrel picture. His brother, Bret Allard, and sister-in-law Dee drove from Cody to support Clayton.

"If someone would have told us prior to the art classes that Clayton was capable of producing something like this, we would have never believed them," Dee Allard said. "The creativity that is stuck deep within them is truly a stroke of genius, and we feel privileged to be the ones witnessing the art created."

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