November 3, 2014
Janice Magness, director of the Transition Academy, home to 15 teenagers and young adults who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), said the students spend about an hour each day working on art projects. Art teacher Maggie Vasquez will create a wreath, a pin or a picture frame to give the students ideas, then each comes up with an example, looks up images on the Internet and uses those images and Vasquez's examples to create a unique piece of art.
“They're very creative,” Magness said. “They don't copy what she did. They put their own creative twist on it.”
The wreaths are themed – fall, Thanksgiving, Texas Tech and Christmas – and covered with brightly colored ribbons, bows, leaves and other decorations. Jewelry is made with a machine that transforms paper into beads.
They will also be selling Christmas cards; each of the students designs a card, and then they are professionally copied and packaged so every buyer gets one of each student's card.
“Our students receive art instruction that transcends the typical arts and crafts approach many programs use to occupy time,” said Tawny Mills, a vocational instructor at Transition Academy. “Our students are provided a quality education that allows them to develop and implement creative strategies in all aspects of life. Students within the Transition Academy learn to recognize and manifest their inherent creativity in various media, expanding their confidence in themselves and how they interact with the world.
“The power of art is undeniable.”
All the buyers at the Art Trail will get to talk with the students, who will be there selling their products. Magness said many people with ASD use art to express themselves and she wants them to not only use their art to say something but also tell people about their art.
“They have to stand and make a pitch,” Magness said. “It's good for them to converse with people about their art.”
The students will be at McPherson Cellars, 1615 Texas Ave., where social skills instructor Chris Ramos, also an artist, displays his work. The First Friday Art Trail begins at 6:30 p.m. Interested buyers can also contact the Burkhart Center to peruse the art or special order a piece.
“Art makes people use a different part of their brain that inspires creativity,” Ramos said. “It is a great outlet to alleviate stress and can be therapeutic on so many levels. My hope is that they will continue to use art long after they leave the Burkhart Center Transition Academy.”
The College of Education at Texas Tech University offers a full range of programs, including eight doctoral degrees, 12 master's degrees and two bachelor's degrees with numerous specializations leading to careers in public or private education as teachers, professors, administrators, counselors and diagnosticians.
The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research is a comprehensive, life span center with a three-fold mission:
Providing services and support to individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families across West Texas and the surrounding area
Offering cutting-edge training to teachers, families and other professionals to provide effective and evidence-based services and support to individuals with ASD
Conducting significant, sponsored interdisciplinary research to better understand and overcome the lifelong causes and effects of ASD in ways that improve functionality and quality of life for people with ASD and their families
The Burkhart Center is part of the Texas Tech University College of Education.Facebook - Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research