Usha Pfifferling’s face lights up with pride as she motions and enthusiastically responds when asked about the house she will paint for the Marriott Courtyard Muncie operated by the Erskine Green Training Institute.

Usha attends day services at ADEC’s Goshen Shoots location; she is hearing impaired and communicates with the world via big motions, bright smiles and written responses to questions on paper. Usha loves to paint and work with various artistic mediums at the Shoots with Ashley Martin, ADEC’s Art Coordinator.

In the spring of 2015, Ashley received notice of an opportunity for artists with disabilities to submit proposals for paintings to decorate the training hotel used by the Arc of Indiana. Each artist commissioned to paint a work for the hotel would receive $500 over the course of several payments.

While the application seemed exhaustive, Ashley knew this would be a great opportunity for a few of her artists at the Shoots. Based upon the descriptions in the call for application and the artists’ areas of talent, she approached four artists with the idea.

“I thought about different people, but I tried to pick out the ones who could work on something without getting bored, who enjoy art and who would have an appreciation for it,” Ashley explained.

Sandra Dills, Che Hines, Yolanda Marrero and Usha Pfifferling happily came on board with the project.

Since the applications required detailed descriptions of what the painting would look like, color schemes and sample of patterns, Ashley worked with each artist to decide on a project to fit his or her skills. For some of the projects, they used unconventional methods to achieve the desired shapes and textures to make the paintings more interesting to the viewer.

For Che’s project, they decided upon light grays, blues and yellows as he would create trees from straight lines, scrapbook paper and circles made with cut up potatoes. For Yolanda, she created an owl made entirely from various pieces of torn scrapbook paper, resulting in a modern vintage feel for the work of art.

“I’m doing an art owl, using paper,” Yolanda says of her painting when asked. “This is my favorite one. I did a bird before, but I like this.”

Ashley submitted the applications in March and received an e-mail on her birthday in June saying all four artists had been commissioned to paint the proposed pieces.

By mid-July, the paperwork was finalized, and Ashley shared the news with the four artists.

“They were really excited,” Ashley remembers. “Big smiles all around. We ordered the canvases and when they came in, they were really excited because they’re bigger canvases [than we normally use]. When Sandy was starting hers, she kept saying, ‘I hope this is good enough for the hotel.’”

Sandy’s painting turned out perfectly. She created blue and white flowers on a grey background using bubble wrap dipped in paint to get the textured shape of the petals just right.

“I wanted to make sure they could each take ownership of their work and know that they did the art, not me,” Ashley says of her approach to art at ADEC. “The clients always have more pride in their work and feel accomplished when they can say without a doubt that this is their artwork.”

The artwork has been safely delivered to the Marriott Courtyard Muncie and will be on display as the Erskine Green Training Center programs get under way.

Che for web

Che Hines

Sandy for web

Sandy Dills


Yolanda Marrero smiles as she paints with Ashley Martin, ADEC Arts Coordinator

About the Erskine Green Training Institute

The Training Institute’s website reads, “A one-of-a-kind postsecondary program and lab, the Institute provides vocational training for a variety of jobs in the hotel, food service, and healthcare environments. It, along with its attached 150-room Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center hotel, is an immersive learning environment.”

The Training Institute exists as a resource for young people with disabilities who desire to start a career in the hospitality, food service or health care industries.

Article by Whitney Craig / Communications Specialist

Photos by Rod Tackett / Communications Specialist