More than 60 people gathered at PS: Gallery on Friday, June 4, to enjoy a reception for the Art for Autism Exhibit and Sale. The event was held by the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders to celebrate the creativity and ability of individuals who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or other neurodevelopmental disorders. The reception also helps to raise money for the Friends of the Thompson Center, a parent group that provides support to families who
|Kellie Ann Christie with Sameul Leutkemeyer, 9.
We had a great turnout!” said Kellie Ann Christie, development officer for the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. “Several of the pieces of artwork that we have on display were sold and everyone seemed to enjoy the food that was provided by bleu restaurant and beverages provided by Les Bourgeois.”
As individuals mingled and enjoyed the artwork, they also enjoyed listening to the music being played by Samuel Luetkemeyer,9, of Jefferson City. Donning a monkey hat, Samuel didn’t seem at all uneasy with his audience and effortlessly played a variety of show tunes and classical music from memory.
“I like doing this.” he said, when asked about his music.
The creative original artwork and enjoyable music inspired attendees to purchase raffle tickets. As the evening progressed, ticket sales increased, raising more than $200 for Friends of the Thompson Center. Ticket holders eagerly awaited the prize drawing: two framed and autographed photos of Cardinal greats Tony LaRussa and Mark McGwire. The prize winner also received his/her choice from the art exhibit. In addition to the raffle, individual pieces of art were sold as part of the successful fundraising event.
“My husband and I bought a piece of artwork.” said Dr. Ann Bettencourt, professor and chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri. “We liked the use of color and texture in the piece.”
Eric Young, 39, of Columbia created the artwork purchased by the Bettencourts. Eric is a resident in a group home in Columbia, and like the other’s who created artwork for the show, has autism. The couple was excited to know about Eric and his life.
“It makes the piece even more special.” Dr. Bettencourt said.
|Becky Gerdes with son Noah, 12.
Several of the individuals who created artwork for the exhibit attended the reception including Madeleine Carter, 7, Noah Gerdes, 12 and Blake Hinkel, 7, all of Columbia. Steven Thawnghmung, 16, of Wildwood, also attended with his mother Carol.
“This was really good for Steven.” said Carol. “He has some issues with fine motor skills so creating his drawing was a challenge.”
|Stephen Thawnghmung, 16, points to his drawing "Jungle Flower".
Steven, a bright, energetic teen, seemed to beam with pride when he saw his drawing titled “Jungle Flower” hanging in the gallery.
“Thank you for the opportunity to do this.” Steven said.
While raising money to support families of individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders is the goal of the Art for Autism Exhibit and Sale, it has proven to be a positive influence on participants. Many of the parents of the children who have artwork in the exhibit have stated that participating in the show has increased their child’s self-esteem.
Paula Carter, mother of 7-year-old Madeleine said, “I have seen a glow in her. I think the art exhibit has given her a sense of pride and confidence!”
The art exhibit ran through June 26 and raised more than $1,200 in funds.