Anitra Redlefsen
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home > teaching & workshops > Special Artists

Special Artists

Adults or children who learn and create best in non-traditional ways are Special Artists because they bring to the art experience new ways of thinking and making art. Special Artists might come from at-risk environments; they could have special physical or emotional needs; or they could have different learning styles that invite new and creative ways of teaching art. Special Artists are often the best learners and they are definitely the best teachers!

My very first Special Artist student was a young man who, as I recall, had muscular dystrophy. I visited him at his home because the art center in our town was not wheelchair assessable and he could not attend art lessons there. That was over 17 years ago. My next student was a child who had a similar disease and was at-home schooled; art was her passion but it was not included in the at-home curriculum, so I brought the art to her. In the early 90ís I joined Very Special Arts (VSA) of Summit County and volunteered with them for many years as their artist-in-residence. In the late 90ís, I co-founded VSA of Medina County at the Medina County Board of MRDD. Dain and I are still actively involved with various projects there (Special Olympics, Spring Art Day, the recent mural project, etc.).

In Akron, I have created and delivered programs for Project R.I.S.E. (homeless girls) and the Summit County Summer Jobs Program (at-risk, intercity). In Cleveland, we have designed summer programs for Parkworks (at-risk, intercity). We have also worked and played with Childrens Hospitalís burn and cancer children and their families.

Several of my private students are Special Artists, all spanning a wide range of special abilities and disabilities. They are indeed very special to me, because they (and their parents) have trusted me to be part of their very personal lives, feelings, and journeys. This trust is such a gift, and with it, I hope that I have made a safe, creative, stimulating, and fun environment here at the Greenleaf Way Studio! In my heart, these students will always be indeed, very special!!

"The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist."
~ Meister Eckert, German Theologian, 1260-1327

"As the poets and painters of centuries tried to tell us, art is not about the expression of talent or the making of pretty things: It is about the preservation and containment of the soul."
~ Thomas Moore

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