Thru My Eyes celebrates artists with special needs

Three artists from Central Alberta with special needs are coming together to offer a brand new Alberta Culture Days event

Three artists from Central Alberta with special needs are coming together to offer a brand new Alberta Culture Days event, the Thru My Eyes Art Exhibition and Sale.

Local artist Wayne Spink was instrumental in starting the event.

He said that the event is not just about supporting artists with special needs, but about supporting people with special needs in general.

“This is about bringing more awareness to the community with regards to issues that these individuals face on a daily basis,” said Spink.

Retired from his professional career as an artist, Spink now works with Lacombe Action Group. Because of Spink’s own experience as an artist, Lacombe Action Group asked him to mentor Sheldon Wheatley of Ponoka, one of the artists featured in Thru My Eyes. Wheatley often visited the Ponoka Jubilee Library to work on his art as it was an available quiet space.

With his protégé frequently visiting the library to work, Spink approached library manager David Tremblay to see if the library would be interested in hosting a show and sale for Wheatley’s art.

Tremblay took things a step further and suggested opening up the event to a few more artists.

That way, the library was also able to secure an Alberta Culture Days grant to fund the event.

So, Spink got a few other artists involved as well. In addition to Wheatley, Thru My Eyes will feature artists Deborah Torrance of Sylvan Lake and Wilson Harrowby of Red Deer.

“This is actually an amazing opportunity for all three of these artists,” said Spink.

In addition to displaying and selling their artworks at the exhibition, the artists will also be instructing workshops and performing demos on the opening day of the exhibition, Sept. 27th.

Wheatley will be teaching a workshop utilizing copic markers (his specialty medium), Torrance a workshop on polymer clay and Wilson will be doing an art demonstration featuring his favourite art subject, cars.

“This is a very unique opportunity that has presented itself,” said Spink.

Currently, there is only enough grant funding to hold the event for one year, but Spink said he hopes it will become an annual thing. He said he would like to see other libraries do similar events in the years to come as well.

Furthermore, Spink said he and Tremblay want to see the event grow. Spink mentioned he would like to see keynote speakers come in addition to the sales and workshops during Thru My Eyes. While the grant funding for Thru My Eyes currently only covers the event this year, Spink said he believes things will come together for future events if he stays focused and ignores deterrents.

“I’m kind of one of these people that has blinders and earplugs on,” said Spink. “Stay focused and things materialize.”

Because of the Alberta Culture grant, all workshops and admission to the event is free.

Funds from sales of the pieces will go directly to the artists.

The Thru My Eyes Art Exhibition and Sale runs from Sept. 27th – Oct. 18th.

Workshops and demos will take place on Sept. 27th beginning at 1 p.m. followed by a meet and greet with the artists at 2:30 p.m. There are only 10 seats available for each workshop so please contact the library to register.

For more information or to register call the Ponoka Jubilee Library at 403-782-3843.

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