EL RENO — When adults with autism got together to come up with a name for their therapy group three years ago, it was about a lot more than the art.
There were the issues of working with others, interacting and just being in a group — all challenges for those on the autism spectrum.
The group came together to make and sell crafts, such as painted coffee mugs.
Art was a common interest that created a bond. And they became serious about their art.
They call their group Bee's Knees. And they have a following.
“They have their little fan club that follows them around,” said Dee Blose, mother of artist David Blose. “It's like a little following of people who like to come to all of their stuff, people who are enamored with the kids and think what they are doing is really great.”
Fans started following the group on Facebook and followed their blog.
‘Big Swanky Art Show'
Bee's Knees artists and some new artists with autism ages 16 to 29 will take part in an art day camp Monday through Friday at Canadian County Youth and Family Services.
Their work will be exhibited July 6 at Rainbow Fleet, 3024 Paseo Drive in Oklahoma City.
Melinda Lauffenburger, executive director of Autism Oklahoma in Edmond, is a sponsor for the project that has been named “The Big Swanky Art Show.”
A video documentary is being made about the art camp and show project, Lauffenburger said.
David Blose, 23, draws and paints pictures about technology; most pictures have a computer in them.
He expects to come up with more ideas at the camp, where he will be surrounded by people who struggle with social interaction, but who have found a way to share a passion for art.
Getting a chance to learn from local artists in the camp is all about “being lucky,” Blose said, and about “having a very awesome life.”
“You do have an awesome life,” Dee Blose said to her son as he showed a photographer some of his works.
She is the executive director of Canadian County Youth and Family Services, co-sponsor of the camp with Autism Oklahoma.
Brandon Smith, art camp and show coordinator, said the art project is about serious art, and not just about people with disabilities who want sympathy or charity.
They want to be considered artists, he said.
“This is legitimately cool,” Smith said.
Joy Lauffenburger, 19, has overcome autism and is high-functioning today. She is enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma, where she plans to study biology. She wants to be a zookeeper. Art always will be a hobby, she said.
Lauffenburger said she has been able to work with the group of other artists with autism because they have common interests.
The artists are more social when they are talking about something they are interested in; their interest in art has helped overcome autism, Dee Blose said.
She urges other adults with autism or developmental disabilities who are artistic to attend the July 6 art show at Rainbow Fleet and get acquainted.
“Autism is just a word that kind of defines them by society's standards,” Blose said. “But what we want to show the world is that they have this beautiful person inside of them that we would like to help them discover and discover what their talents are and their possibilities are.”