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Community art endeavor this Saturday

Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center clients will showcase their artwork Sept. 16. (Submitted photo)

The Park Rapids Area Library and Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) invite the public to a one-day event featuring art by DAC clients and a special presentation about "autism and the healing power of art."

Construction of a community sculpture, an art showcase and a guest speaker are slated for Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Century School.

"It is our hope that this project will foster greater awareness and understanding of those among us with disabilities, including mental illness, and those who don't fit into a standard mold," says Library Branch Manager Jodi Schultz. "The sculpture we create together will beautify the library, from both the inside and outside, and ignite conversation. Ideally, this collaborative endeavor will inspire people to reach out, building connections, bridging gaps and celebrating the diversity within our community."

The library and DAC have partnered to offer "The Art Within: Finding Our Voice Together," a community art project.

The second phase of the project starts at noon on Sept. 16 with an art show and reception, featuring guest artists from the DAC and The Tin Ceiling.

Laura Johnson, executive director of the Hubbard County DAC, wants to incorporate more art experiences for DAC clients and facilitate their integration into the community at large. She also had befriended a mother and son who speak about the healing power of art.

At 1 p.m., special guest A. J. Wildes will share an inspiring and empowering story of advocating for her son, Devin, and helping him discover his passion and the key to unlocking his speech. In Devin's case, art acted as the catalyst for speech, helping him find his voice.

A. J. has been a design consultant for interiors in healthcare and education, specifically dealing with autism and ADHD. In 2013, she completed a e-book trilogy about design for autism. She continues to lecture and teach principles that help others design in a more empathetic way for individuals with autism.

At 2 p.m., community members are invited to help construct a Dale Chihuly-inspired sculpture. Chihuly is an American glass sculptor recognized for his convention-shattering techniques and natural, organic aesthetics. He relies on a communal, or team, method of glassblowing — particularly after accidents left him blind in one eye and injured his shoulder.

Throughout the summer, Park Rapids area residents and visitors colored recycled plastic bottles that will be cut, heated, curled, twisted and assembled to form a chandelier-like sculpture. The finished art will hang in the library's vestibule facing Highway 34.

Local artist and Nevis art teacher Tiffany Besonen will be the consulting artist at Saturday's event.

CHI St. Joseph's Health and Lamb Weston made financial contributions. "The Art Within" project is also supported, in part, with Legacy funds through Kitchigami Regional Library System.

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