Usha Pfifferling squealed and gestured with joy as she painted outdoors at Potato Creek State Park on Wednesday, June 22. Using just her imagination and the scenery around her, she painted a brightly colored banded background and filled it in with a fence and big flowers.

Usha, an ADEC client, communicates and shares her passion through her art. She is nonverbal and hearing impaired, but those barriers fall away when she has a brush in her hand. No one can tell Usha what to paint or get her to change her mind once she’s set on a project.

Usha is one of three ADEC artists who received $500 commissions from the Indiana Arts Commission to participate in their Arts in the Parks series commemorating their 50th anniversary as well as the Indiana State Park system’s 100th anniversary.

In addition to the artists’ commissions, ADEC received grant funding from the Indiana Arts Commission to host trio of family events in the park this summer, called Inspired: Summer Art Series. The next events will be on July 13 and August 3, from 12-2 at the Peppermint Hill indoor/outdoor area at Potato Creek.

IMG_3501To kick of the series, music played as dozens of ADEC clients welcomed families vacationing in the parks to join in on a bird nest craft and a community rain barrel painting project.

The rain barrel turned out to be the hit of the day. Everyone left their own mark on it, making it a colorful tribute to a fun time in the park.

“I love the rain barrel – that was just what I was hoping for,” Ashley Martin, ADEC art team leader said after the event. “I was afraid it might end up just being one color, but it had different shapes and colors.”

More than 50 people came out to participate, with several clients and staff members from ADEC’s Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Bristol locations acting as hosts for the event. Showcasing the skills possessed by ADEC artists and introducing the local community to ADEC formed the mission for the summer art series.

Just before the event opened at noon, families started to gather excitedly nearby. They had seen fliers up in the park when they set up camp earlier in the week. Kids jumped excitedly at the idea of doing art projects and the parents enjoyed watching and talking with ADEC staff and clients.

One little girl had such a great time, she stayed for the full two hours. She completed art projects and talked with clients, taking a lead on helping with the rain barrel. Her mom just smiled and watched from the car. When it was time to go home, she took off running to excitedly show her mom all she’d done.

On the next art day, Usha, Che Hines and Erin Smoker will be back to work on some more paintings while members of the public are invited to come participate on a collage project or bring their own art work to complete.

Article by Whitney Craig | Communications Specialist

Photo by Rod Tackett | Communications Specialist