The place to be for one-of-a-kind art & fun, benefiting the children and adults of Easterseals Arkansas
By Jillian McGhee | Photography by Sara Reeves | Backdrop created by Emily Cobb | Hair by Jessica Johnson of Face Your Day Salon | Makeup by Aaron Perkins of Face Your Day Salon
Some of the greatest stories ever told have been communicated through the stroke of a paint brush and the dripping of paint, says local artist Emily Cobb. She and other local & regional artists will display their pieces among the artwork of Easterseals Arkansas children and adults at the 14th annual Art & Soul, of which Emily is co-chair.
The diverse collection of art will be presented in Art & Soul’s live and silent auctions during an evening of music; gourmet food by At the Corner; specialty drinks by Petit & Keet; and other libations provided by Lost Forty, Flyway Brewery and Golden Eagle Distributers.
Art & Soul also highlights works created through the A.R.T. (Artistic Realization Technologies) Program, which provides hands-on creative expression for children and adults with limited use of their arms and hands. The artists communicate with “trackers” – volunteers like Mary Lynn Nelson, who brought the program to Easterseals Arkansas – via a laser attached to a headpiece or other means of communication. The artist and tracker work in tandem to create one-of-a-kind paintings.
For more than 70 years, Easterseals Arkansas has been a resource for people with disabilities and their families. Its mission is to provide exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. Fundraisers like Art & Soul help fulfill this mission.
A.R.T. takes place at Easterseals Arkansas’ Center for Training and Wellness – a day program facility for adults ages 18 and older with disabilities or developmental delays. It’s a place for them to make friends, learn new skills, obtain a job and lead a busy life. Attending the Center is a positive transition, especially for adults who have just graduated high school.
Without the dedication of people like Emily, events benefiting Easterseals Arkansas wouldn’t be possible. Most know her as the talented artist of Art E Cobb. In recent years, her work has become more abstract. “I enjoy all things creative,” she says, “but I suppose I am known most for my abstract paintings.”
“Art is a great outlet and one of the best forms of therapy,” Emily continues, adding, “the A.R.T. Program allows Easterseals’ clients to tell their stories through art.”
Kristen Martin, an Easterseals Arkansas client, is the featured artist at this year’s event. She has been in the A.R.T. Program since 2013. Painting is one of her favorite hobbies, and one can tell by the constant smile she has on her face as she works with her tracker to create her latest masterpiece. During her A.R.T. sessions, she is focused and has a clear direction of what she wants for each piece. When she’s not busy painting, she enjoys watching movies, reading and knitting. And more importantly, practicing her Taekwondo skills – she is a third-degree black belt.
Emily – a wife, mom and vice president of her family’s company, Cleanco LLC – has been contributing art to Art & Soul for five years and has served on the event’s committee for four. “The clients of Easterseals captured my heart and opened my eyes to the positive, life-changing differences this organization is making in the lives of people and families living with disabilities.”
Art & Soul is a night in Little Rock not to be missed, Emily notes. “It’s a night of fabulous food, libations and an amazing silent and live auction featuring some of the most talented local artists in town that supports a great cause. You have to like to party to know how to throw a good one – this will be one you don’t want to miss.”