Letters of inspiration: UAB Art Club students help Bell Center graduates create lasting “legacy” artwork

Each year, The Bell Center invites artists to collaborate with the center’s students and create a work of art that commemorates the graduating class. This year’s legacy piece was a collage of the young graduates’ first initials.

bell center projectStudents from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, inspired by typography and graphic design, created a lasting piece of artwork with students from The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs.

Since 1984, The Bell Center has provided quality early intervention services in a center-based program in Birmingham. Children come from throughout central Alabama with a wide variety of special needs and diagnoses, ranging from cerebral palsy and Down syndrome to autism and rare genetic disorders.

During the spring 2016 semester, four students from Medium: Art Club at UAB collaborated with The Bell Center’s graduating class to create this year’s “legacy” piece. Medium, affiliated with the College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Art and Art History, is a student-run organization with a mission to provide UAB students with opportunities for artistic research and creative innovation, professional development, and community outreach and service. Members Katelyn Ledford of Birmingham, Jacob Phillips of Dothan, Mikala Buwalda of Harvest and Melody Hollenbeck of Wetumpka participated in the collaboration.

This year’s legacy piece was a collage of The Bell Center’s students’ first initials, which they were encouraged to color in with paint, markers and crayons. They also collaborated together as students to decorate the background of the canvas. Ledford and Phillips, co-presidents of Medium, presented the canvas and gave away prints of the work at The Bell Center graduation, held May 22.

Each year, the center invites an artist or group of artists to collaborate with the center’s students and create a work of art that commemorates the graduating class and is placed on permanent display at the center’s facilities in Homewood. This is the second year Medium has participated.

“After working with the students in the spring of 2015, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to witness how each child expresses him- or herself through art,” said Buwalda, the club’s social media coordinator and photographer.

Programs at The Bell Center are designed to promote growth in motor skills, as well as language, cognition, self-help and social skills. Since its inception, the program has provided dramatic results for its more than 1,000 children.