By Karie Simmons firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanne Knox was an award-winning artist who loved to paint, but because of her disability, the 60-year-old from Bear hasn’t put color to canvas in years.
All that changed earlier this month when Dwayne Szot of Zot Artz stopped by Chimes Delaware on Interchange Boulevard with his adaptive paint brushes, giving Knox the ability to use her creative talents once again.
“I love art,” Knox said. “I had fun.”
On Dec. 7, Knox and other members of Chimes, a nonprofit that provides support for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, used Szot’s paint rollers and stencils, which can be attached to wheelchairs or walked like a push mower, to spread different colors of paint across a giant canvas on the floor.
Knox walked across the canvas several times, pushing pink, then red, then yellow paint. She said she had a hard time walking with the equipment at first, but once she got the hang of it, she didn’t want to stop. After everyone had a go, Knox said she stepped back and admired the work.
“It looked nice and beautiful,” she said.
Founded in 1990, Michigan-based Zot Artz creates special art events for children, adults and seniors of all abilities, including those with physical impairments, hearing and visual impairments, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and autism. Employees show up with all the tools and supplies and work with participants as they paint, roll, stamp and print to make their masterpiece.
Dave Black, director of day services at Chimes, said he learned about Zot Artz from Lisa Bartoli, executive director of Art Therapy Express – a Delaware-based nonprofit dedicated to giving people with disabilities a voice through the arts. He said Chimes works with Art Therapy Express once a week and Bartolli thought Chimes might benefit from a Zot Artz activity.
Black took one look at the company’s website and said yes.
“It was the inclusiveness and that it could include our entire population,” he said. “It didn’t matter if you were in a wheelchair or walker, or not. Everyone could be as creative as they wanted to be regardless of any disability.”
During the event Dec. 7, the Chimes participants each made their own stencil out of foam. Then they dipped the foam in paint and spread their design over the canvas, which was laid out on the lunchroom floor. They also made their own individual pieces to take home.
“Some people, like Joanne, went around twice, it was so much fun,” Black said. “Everyone really enjoyed it. Some of the smiles were just ear to ear.”
He said Chimes plans to turn the large canvas into smaller greeting cards to hand out and posters to frame and hang around the center.
“That way everyone can look at it and say, ‘That was my stencil. That was my paint,’” he said.