Kids and artists work ‘Side by Side’ at Kentucky Museum

Sarah Ssler, 10, of Bowling Green draws in her Side by Side art class. The Side by Side classes are intended to get children with developmental and behavioral disorders expressing themselves through art.

Jacob Parker

For six weeks, children with limited ability from elementary, middle and high school will create works of art at the Kentucky Museum.

The first of the Side by Side art classes took place on Saturday as part of a partnership between the Kentucky Museum and VSA, an acronym for “Very Special Art,” which is an international organization on arts and disability.

Lynne Ferguson, artist-in-residence at the Kentucky Museum, teaches the first set of classes. Ferguson said in Saturday’s session, she wanted the children to look at painting in a different way.

“I want them to look at things differently rather than just painting on paper,” she said. “We’re going to add color and take it away, but we’re not going to start with white.”

After the classes end, each child is paired individually with a local artist to paint together and create a collaborative work.

In January, the works will be showcased and auctioned at the Kentucky Museum. The pieces created by the children and artists will be put in groups of three. On the left, the child’s work; on the right, the artist’s; and in the middle, a work they created together.

“You would be surprised at what some of these kids can do,” Ferguson said. 

Jessica McGrew, who has brought her son Chase to classes for the past three years, said the classes help to pull words out of him, when he is usually not that verbal.

“It’s another outlet,” she said. “It makes him want to read more too.

Ten-year-old Chase said painting made him excited, and that he liked to draw and paint. 

Eight-year-old Maddie said she’s won an award for her creations and has her own sketch pad.

“I draw at my house very much,” she said.

During the class, the children used acrylic paint and the ends of brushes to create designs on watercolor paper. Maddie used purple on top of beige, before etching in a horse with the end of her paintbrush.

“It’s a Pegasus,” she said. “This one has a heart and wings from My Little Pony.”

Cindy Bezotte said she’s brought all three of her children to the classes in the past, and that all of them are artistically inclined.

“I’m glad for programs like this,” she said. “My older son, Jacob, wants to be a painter.”