They live lives incessantly circumscribed by guidelines, parameters and regimen.
But when any of the 140 persons served by Cardinal Services in Warsaw take refuge in the liberating haven of RedBird Art Studio, their personalities unfurl and their spirits take flight through their unique individualized creative expressions.
Many of these special artists are shackled by an inability to verbally communicate, but their paintings, drawings, framework, jewelry, book covers, cards, decorations and beadwork deliver a message worth thousands of words.
And invariably, when they finish a project, they view their masterpieces with the uncritical, joyful eye of the innocent, awestruck child.
Michele Fanfair-Steury, Cardinal’s community integration coordinator, considers herself a direct beneficiary of the program.
“I admire the artists because they never question or second-guess themselves. They are always so happy with their work. It has changed me as an artist not to be so self-critical.”
She described that epiphany as one of her “biggest ‘Aha!’ moments” since she came on board with Cardinal, courtesy of a charitable grant, when the studio opened April 12.
“It is such a peaceful freeing space to know everything is just as it is supposed to be,” she said.
According to Cardinal’s CEO, Randy Hall, the heartwarming blessings ripple beyond the walls of the studio, formerly the facility’s gymnasium.
“I have been surprised at the talent and other benefits we have seen in helping people be more expressive,” he said.
“It has also helped people in the community connect with the artists.
“It is that whole idea we connect with people when we have something in common with them. People are interested in the art and that makes them comfortable with developing relationships with the artists.”
The community will have an opportunity to view and purchase the artwork during the October First Friday weekend in downtown Warsaw.
The artists’ handiwork will be on display from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at The Vic, an event space at 110 N. Buffalo St.
Artists will receive 60 percent of the proceeds, with 40 percent going to the art studio.
The studio is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the public can engage in several ways, according to Vickie Lootens, director of development.
“We want the community to visit the art studio,” she said. “We provide tours of the whole facility, featuring the studio.”
The one-hour Cardinal Connection tours include a free lunch. The remaining 2016 dates are Thursday, Oct. 13; Tuesday, Oct. 25 and Nov. 15; and Wednesday, Dec. 7.
“We can customize a tour date for groups,” said Lootens.
Cardinal, a 501c3 organization, is also seeking volunteers and donations.
At the top of the donation wish list are a pottery wheel and kiln, but “the sky’s the limit as to what we can use,” she said.
For example, “we received a boat tarp and used it for canvas art and book covers the artists decorated.”
Donations of material or equipment may be dropped off at the Cardinal Services building at 504 N. Bay Drive, Warsaw.
Monetary donations may be delivered or mailed to that address or made online at www.cardinalservices.org. Please specify whether the funds are to be earmarked for the RedBird Art Studio.
For more information, call Lootens at (574) 371-1344 or e-mail [email protected]