Making a Difference: The T. K. Martin Center - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Making a Difference: The T. K. Martin Center

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COLUMBUS, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The current showing at the Columbus Arts Council gallery is just about to wrap up, but it has been extremely popular. These paintings are the creations of local artists.

And maybe, more than many other paintings, really are the expression of the artists inner feeling. And in some instances, the soul expression of those feelings.  

Tina Sweet, the Executive Director of the Columbus Arts Council observed,

"Some of the paintings are really reflective of the artist that did it," said Columbus Arts Council Executive Director Tina Sweet. "And so sometimes you can't really see the magic unless you've met the artist."  

The symmetry, the color, the shading, the depth, all comes from inside these people. They are the artists. All with physical handicaps who normally wouldn't be able to achieve this type expression except for a program that's been going on at the T. K. Martin Center in Starkville for about seven years.  

Judy Duncan is the Case Manager at the T. K. Martin Center at Mississippi State University.

"Our program is called Express Yourself. And it is an art program intended for individuals who have very severe physical disabilities and are unable to paint themselves," said Duncan. "And so with use of what we call a tracker which is the able bodied person they use our arms and our hands to be able to express themselves through art."  

The artist communicates the size of the canvas and the color to be used and the brush or tool involved at the moment to the tracker through various means of communication.  

Laurie Craig works at the Martin center and also spends time as a tracker.

"We have one artist who actually paints with a lazar strapped to his head and he directs us through the lazar," said Craig."So they direct everything that we do. We give them a choice of colors. We give them a choice of brushes. We use any kind of instrument from a horseshoe to a corncob to a paintbrush small or large."  

And the finished product is a self-expression from someone who, due to physical limitation, has had little chance elsewhere in life to express themselves and brings out their inner feelings.  

Shannon Herod is one of the artists. She says the program helps her,

"To be happy, to live a normal life. It mostly tells me about myself," said Herod. 

The colors, the symmetry, the depth of emotion, comes to the surface and is on canvas through the trackers who interpret the self-expression of these artist and in so doing are Making a Difference.

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