Trinity art show is breaking out in polka dots

News-DemocratMarch 30, 2014 

If you want to meet prolific artists like Tammy Hampton, head east out of Mascoutah to Trinity Farmstead & Gardens. Inside a big sunny building that sits on 40-plus acres, adults spend part of their day creating paintings, sculptures, wall hangings and other art.

"I did this and I did more. I really, really like doing this!" said 23-year-old Tammy as she smiled and posed with one of her paintings.

More than 500 pieces make up the annual Expressions of Freedom art show and sale, sponsored by Trinity Services and the ALFA Foundation (A Life Worth Living), Southwestern Illinois. Both offer day programs and services that help adults affected by autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The show will be April 6 at Trinity Services' location in town on North Sixth Street.

The state doesn't pay for the art program, so the money raised goes to keeping paint, canvases, brushes and other supplies in stock, said Alicia Scolarici. The local mixed media artist has worked with the budding artists several days a week since 2007.

This will be the sixth annual show. Last year, Trinity's talent raised more than $7,500. Artwork ranged from $5 hand-painted wine glasses and $15 silk scarves to $100 for large framed paintings.

"We made 100 scarves this year," said Alicia. "Last year, we had only two left."

The art program has come a long way.

"You know, we started with coloring books and now we have this," she said with a smile, pointing out walls full of expression, lined up and leaning, filling corners and stacked up on top of a long row of cabinets. She has four volunteers who help out, and they stretch the dollars. "We get donations of frames and we go to garage sales."

The art center has its own space. Adults in other areas of the building learn practical skills, such as cooking, housekeeping, stocking shelves, writing, some math and exercise. Twenty to 25 attend day programs there from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Most are non-verbal or have limited verbal skills, said Rebecca Bernard, a case manager.

"The youngest is 20 and the oldest is 50."

The background music one day was Sheryl Crow, and a little dancing was going on.

At long tables in the art area, canvas, paint, brushes and artists were ready. Eddie McCracken was hard at work with a paintbrush, while Holly Schreisels used sponges to dab color on a board. Elisha Jones painted display easels black in preparation for the show. There were a few friendly nudges, some laughter and comments on who was helping out and who wasn't.

"I'm doing all the work," said one young lady as she painted a frame and eyeballed her neighbor, who was doodling on paper.

Alicia scavenged through rows of finished canvases, Tammy Hampton urging her on. Tammy pointed out one of her paintings of a tree, replete with blended dots of multicolored paint to suggest leaves above the brown trunk. The background was a vivid green.

Alicia said a good part of her job is to suggest colors, show technique and share examples of famous work.

"We've done Monet, van Gogh, Andy Warhol -- those are just a few. I direct and I let them go with it," she said. For each show, a particular artist is chosen as the focus. This year, it is Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, well-known for her use of polka dots. Her installations have included lines of trees with trunks painted in dots, so Alicia's artists painted big branches red with white dots to use at the show.There are dotted tablecloths, bottles, even mobiles made of big, bright, glittery dots.

Case manager Rebecca said the effort the adults put in their creations has a positive effect on them: "It really helps settle them; it gives them a center, lets them be creative."

Expressions of Freedom Art Show and Sale

What: Sixth annual event offering more than 500 works of art created by adults who are developmentally challenged. Includes wine, music and hors d'oeuvres.

When: 1-5 p.m. April 6

Where: Trinity Services, 973 N. Sixth St., Mascoutah (just north of Scheve Park)

Admission: Free

Sponsored by: Trinity Services and the ALFA Foundation (A Life Worth Living), Southwestern Illinois

Benefits: Trinity Services Art Program

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