Art students at Easter Seals West Kentucky Adult Services in Paducah are putting the finishing touches on pieces for the upcoming 9th Annual Heart and Soul Art Celebration and Auction on Sept. 13.
The event, a yearly fundraiser to benefit the adult art program, will feature a live and silent auction, in addition to music, drinks and delicious food, said Amalia Harris, case manager for Easter Seals and event chairman.
"We rely on the art auction to buy supplies like paints and canvas, pay for framing and for professional artists to come in. It keeps the program running," Harris said.
Last year the auction raised $15,000, and the goal for this year is $25,000, she noted.
"The night is about celebrating all kinds of arts," Harris said. "The auction offers art to the community that's meaningful, beautiful, affordable and for a good cause."
Artist Diana Davenport started the Easter Seals art program about 10 years ago while she was working at the Adult Services Center on Mildred Street.
"I saw the need. I saw these individuals and what they were capable of doing, how they were able to express themselves through art that they wouldn't have been able to otherwise," she said.
Many Easter Seals clients have physical and verbal limitations, but it doesn't stop them from participating in art classes. In fact, about 60 students now attend the class.
"The pieces they were doing were beautiful. I was amazed," Davenport said.
Classes are offered Monday through Friday. Often, professional artists from the community will visit to help instruct and offer inspiration. Students also gain inspiration by looking at photos; others dream up their creations.
"We let our imaginations go," said Martha Augustus, art student. "We have freedom of expression here."
In addition to creating pieces for the annual art auction, students take their work home, or they sell their art at the center.
"It's their work," Davenport said.
The live auction will include 18 pieces, some donated from the collections of local artists and some made collaboratively between local artists and Easter Seals students. The silent auction will include 70 items, including some of the smaller, more affordable pieces of art.
Professional artists who are represented in this year's auction are Michael Terra, Randy Simmons, Joan Dance, Mary Ruth "Tutu" Maggard, Teri Bybee, Carol Harlan, Mark Donham and Elise Beattie.
The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at Walker Hall, 229 Madison St. Tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased in advance by calling Easter Seals at 270-443-1200 or at the door on the night of the event.
Easter Seals clients who have art for sale in the auction will be there to show their art. It's a source of pride, Harris said.
"The community is not just getting together for them, we're getting together with them," she explained. About 15 Easter Seals artists will be at the show.
Every year, a different Easter Seals artist is featured. This year, the artist is Anthony Jeffery.
"We look for someone who exemplifies what's going on with the art program," Harris said.
With Jeffery, Davenport said, it was his enthusiasm for art that set him above the rest this year.
"He's come out of his shell by expressing himself through art," she said.
Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.