Getting creative

. October 8, 2012.

Taryn Bregel, who is developmentally delayed, has worked with Sarah Crisp for about a year. Her artwork fills her family’s home. Her mother, Cindy, said 20-year-old Taryn has not only created beautiful art but also gained confidence. Bregel and Crisp sit at Bregel’s dining room table, looking over landscape pictures containing trees. After selecting a picture, Crisp spread blues and greens onto a canvas and Bregel picks up a paintbrush and moves the brush back and forth over the canvas. While she paints, the two young women talk.“What do I always make you paint?” asked Crisp. “Ones that have trees in them,” said Bregel. “Why?” “Because it makes me take my time,” Bregel answered.

By painting trees, Bregel has to slow down and be more careful in her fine motor skills. It’s a lesson that goes beyond art and becomes therapy. Through art, music, exercise, photography and other activities, those with special needs can work on skills in a fun way.  It’s the mission of Crisp’s Awakening Minds Art organization, which will hold it's scholarship fundraiser on Saturday, December 3, from 7-10pm at Alexandria's (132 E. Crawford) for $10 per person.

Crisp, formerly with the therapy organization Art Without Boundaries, wanted to create an organization that offers art and other creative activities to everyone regardless of ability. In addition to Crisp, other art professionals offer their services in chalk, acrylics, photography, sculpture and exercise classes. As well as one on one sessions in a person’s home. 

Many of the people who take advantage of Awakening Minds Art are typical students who enjoy art. The program, however, is specialized for those with brain disorders including autism, dementia, stroke, cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome. The group works with both adults and children, and focuses on improving skills such as speech, fine motor movement, socialization and problem solving. “A lot of kids might not want to go to therapy because it might not be fun, and they’re not creating things. With this class they are creating art that is rewarding and beautiful,” said Crisp.

“Everything in this program is fun. They don’t even realize they’re receiving therapy.”

Crisp also works with nursing homes and other providers in the area, including The Center for Autism & Dyslexia. Director Susan Pnueman said Crisp visits the organization’s centers in Findlay and Lima once a week. “Art in itself is a way to express yourself. Children with autism can’t communicate well,” said Pnueman. “One common strand with Awakening Minds Art is that they can creatively express themselves and communicate through art.”

Taryn Bregel especially enjoys when her mother posts her art on Facebook so her former high school friends can she what she has been doing. “It’s been a real blessing of a program for us, and for Taryn’s self-esteem,” said Cindy Bregel.

For more info on Awakening Minds Art, visit or