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Mardi Gras Art Show Highlights Autistic Expression

Feb. 10, 2011

Listen to the audio | Mardi Gras Art Waco

As a mother who dealt with the effects of autism on her family, Betsy Klesse has seen how firsthand how a child deprived of words can communicate through other means. It's a development process that all families with autism go through.

Last summer, KWBU's Jackie Deavenport visited a summer art camp for autistic kids, where workers like Jeannie Cullard saw students like Jeremy learn to express themselves.

Now, this spring, Betsy Klesse is organizing an art show, contest, and auction that highlights the relationship between art and autism, and allows special needs-children to display their work alongside the broader community. For Klesse, the show is borne out of a difficult time. Her son, Jonathan, who was among the early wave of autism diagnoses, passed away three years ago.

Klesse turned to art as a personal therapy on the advice of a friend. Over time, she's become more aware of the positive effects of art not just for, but as that outlet for children like her son Jonathan. And so she's worked to create a fundraiser for the Heart of Texas Autism Network that will educate the community about the special way that art communicates, raise money to help families who deal with autism, and allow student artists, both those with and without special needs, to display their work. Students and professionals have donated works of various kinds for "A Mardi Gras Celebration of Art"

Klesse said the idea of excrypted art is the opposite of encrypted. It's bringing the feelings and emotions of the artist back out through the various senses. The Friday night show requires purchased tickets, and features food, drink, and music. The Saturday portion is free and features events and creativity tables for children in addition to the art sale.

And in this art sale and exhibition, Klesse proudly notes that the art by autistic children is displayed along with everybody.

The show takes place March 4th and 5th at Hoffman Hall in Waco. You can learn more about "A Mardi Gras Celebration of Art" and find a link to their website at KWBU.org. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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