NEW PORT RICHEY – Adam Schmiz had the oil pastels, the paper and the freedom to create whatever he wanted, but the artistic muse refused to kick in.
Artist Mindy S. Egert decided to give the 12-year-old a little coaxing and a pep talk.
“You know what you can do, Adam?” she said. “You can close your eyes and draw with your eyes closed. It doesn’t matter. Art is from you and it’s all wonderful in my opinion.
“Adam began to draw.
It was one more small victory in the autism/varying exceptionalities class at Seven Springs Middle School, where Egert is serving as an artist in residency and giving a creative boost to the nine students in teacher Kala Hamilton’s classroom.
About half the students are autistic and the others have other disabilities, Hamilton said.”It’s very hard for these kids to focus five minutes,” Hamilton said during a one-hour lesson with Egert this week. “It’s already been 11 minutes, and they are still very involved.
Egert’s visits to Hamilton’s classroom are made possible through the VSA Florida Artist in Residency Program, which is based at the University of South Florida’s College of Education.