By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
All of the artwork on display at MSU Meridian Friday evening at a special showing exhibited talent that was colorful and, according to those in attendance, inspired. The artwork of three individuals stood out, however, not because they were in wheelchairs, but because of their talent, all agreed.
Thalmus Brown, Shannon Herod and Ashley Bass are members of the art project of the T.K. Martin Center for Technological and Disabilities on the campus of MSU in Starkville.
"I've taught a lot of students both on the college, junior college and high school levels and these people show they are really talented," said Mark Brown, art instructor at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville.
Mark Brown was also showing his latest works following a successful exhibit in Starkville.
"They are not held back like most people," Mark Brown said of the trio. "They have physical challenges but they say through their art,
'Hey, this is who I am.'"
Thalmus Brown had several examples of his work on display. Some of the examples had been sold with some of the proceeds going to the artist and some to the T.K. Martin Center.
"I really don't have a concept when I begin a piece," Thalmus Brown said. "I just go with what I'm feeling in my heart. I think that is where the honesty comes from."
Herod said she does both artwork and poetry. She said both are similar in that she gets to let her feelings out.
"It's not hard to love yourself," Herod said. "People just won't let it happen."
Dr. Penny K. Wallin, assistant professor of educational leadership at MSU Meridian, said the trio, and others with similar disabilities, are part of the technological art project. Thalmus Brown, Herod and Bass don't actually take up a paint brush. They aren't physically able. That is where a trained individual called a tracker comes into play.
"The artist tells the tracker where to place the brush, what colors to use, the directions to go and so forth," said Wallin. "The trackers are an extension of the artist, the hands and arms of the artist."
Judy Duncan is a case manager for the T.K. Martin Center. She said the center's main goal since its inception in 1996 was to evaluate the needs of physically challenged people so those people would know where to go for assistance.
"Some might need a special wheelchair, or ways to drive themselves," Duncan said. "Others might need a computer modified so they can operate it. Whatever the physical demand, we can just about find a way the person can use it."
The overall goal is to give physically challenged individuals a chance to be as independent as possible.