This spring the St. Louis Arc’s Community Engagement (CE) program held an eight-week art class for participants. Spearheaded by the Far West CE site, the program enrolled 25 individuals in the class, representing all six of the CE and AWE sites.
Each class began with a review of the materials being used: brushes, canvas, and paints, pallets, easels along with a history of what the brushes have historically been made from. The instructor introduced a painting by a famous artist, including pieces from Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet. The hour-long class then allowed the artists to recreate the featured piece of art. While the classes had a set piece of art and instruction, artists were encouraged to paint creatively. All artists truly took liberty to create what was in their heart.
Benefits of Art
Art is known for providing a creative outlet, but for individuals in this class it provided even more. Staff noticed something interesting on the first day of class. CE and AWE have held many collaborative events throughout the years and when individuals from the different sites gather in the same room, they are known to become boisterous. From seeing new friends, to a change in their daily routine, noise is expected. During the first art class staff noted silence take over the room when everyone began to paint. The participants in the class became focused and engrossed in their art and the quiet calmness continued throughout the 8-week class. For several individuals in the class, their typical self-stimulatory behavior, or stim, lessened while they were in class. Other usually quiet individuals, found a voice in the class, speaking up to answer questions or talk about their painting.
For the participants from Far West CE, they used their time before and after class to assist their instructor. Each individual had their own self-defined job, from cleaning brushes to setting up tables, they took ownership of and pride in their class. As the class continued other sites began to stay after class to assist with clean-up as well.
While the class has come to an end, the artists are excited to showcase the art they have created. On Monday, April 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm., participants will hold an Open House Art Exhibit. We encourage everyone to attend the exhibit to view the artist’s work. Additionally, several pieces will be available for purchase in a silent auction. Please join us at the St. Louis Arc Family Center, located at 1177 N. Warson on April 29!