Working Together: Artists Express Creativity

portalbanner-3072x450-noneIf two heads are better than one, think about the painting that four artists could create if they worked together.

That is what four adults proved as they worked on “Pathfinders,” a collaborative painting that will be among the works in the Jay & Mona Kang Art Show & Sale.

Frank Fecko, fine arts supervisor at the Barber National Institute, develops many different ways to enable adults with varying abilities and challenges to express themselves through art. Collaborative pieces encourage cooperation and communication, and, it turns out, are a perfect way to play to the strengths of each artist.

When Frank wanted to encourage Donna Straight to create artwork for the show, he found that her limited mobility would not be a barrier when he brought her together with three other artists.

“Because Donna can’t use her hands, she draws with a laser affixed to her headband,” Frank said. “She designs the whole piece.”  While Donna drew the pattern, Frank followed the laser closely with a pen to capture her idea on paper.

The completed design was projected onto a large canvas and outlined with chalk.  With Donna’s vision as the basis for the piece, Alfred Brown then used his precision skills to layer scotch tape over each of the lines. He carefully placed short pieces that have a staggered look, which surprised

“You really don’t know how these projects are going to go,” he said. “They just evolve on their own. I facilitate the process and they do the creating. That is what makes them exciting.”

When it came time to paint, Inna Dovbush and Sarah Shaffer took over.  Inna has been regularly doing art in the Community Participation Supports Program, but Frank was eager to work with Sarah, who has only been in the program for half a year.

“Sarah’s always watching me work with the individuals here, but would never really initiate her desire to come over and paint,” Frank said. “She’s got a certain set of skills that would be perfect for this kind of painting, even though she’s never worked on it before. So we gave it a try.”

Sarah and Inna both took turns dripping paint onto the canvas while the other would spread it with a roller. Despite it being her first project, Sarah took to the process naturally. She made sure Inna felt included in both the dripping and rolling, and helped direct her to work in certain areas.

Frank is pleased with the teamwork the duo exhibited and the direction they took the piece. Once satisfied with the painting, Inna and Sarah peeled the tape off the canvas in preparation for the final phase of the project.

Alfred returned with a paintbrush in hand to paint over the exposed chalk lines with a variety of colors. You can view the process at

While Frank developed the process to create this piece, he said he still learned a lot from watching the adults in relation to his own work as an artist.  He also believes this type of project perfectly exemplifies one of the goals the program sets out to do:  foster social engagement.

“Interaction among each other is really a major component to the program,” Frank said. “Art is just a vehicle to do that.”

This is the final week of the Jay & Mona Kang Virtual Art Show. You can still place your bid on “Pathfinders,” or purchase your favorite piece of art. There is a lot of great art available! Visit us at

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