Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.


Students help others find their 'Artistic Abilities'

May 18, 2009

Four years ago, the CSU's Department of Art created a program that Art Education students could participate in for the service learning component that was required for the major. The program provided the opportunity for adults with disabilities to learn art directly from CSU students using a variety of styles and media.

Program snapshots

(5 images)

Passing out materials for art project.

Teacher and student showing off 'Erica's House'.

Working with paint and a variety of other media.

Painting a newly created mug.

Trying out water colors.

Inspiring students

“Working with clients that have special needs and those without, I have gleaned a much better understanding of how universally important the arts are for personal expression. I came away from this experience fueled and inspired by those taking the class. Their fascination for making art was incredibly uplifting. It was elevating to be in company of those stirred to produce art,” says Rachel Browning, a senior art major.

Filling the room

“We began with small classes where the teachers sometimes outnumbered the students,” says Natalie Barnes, advisor and adjunct instructor for Department of Art.

The program now offers two sessions with enrollments of 13 and 14 enrolled adults with disabilities.

“When you add in wheelchairs and care providers, this really fills the room,” says Barnes.

Affiliation with the City of Fort Collins

During the spring ’09 semester, the program became affiliated with the City of Fort Collins Adaptive Resources Program and created the Artistic Abilities Program. The decision came from student feedback letting the program coordinators know that more experience was wanted with the community. The partnership between the Art Education and the City met several needs for Fort Collins.

“I believe we have found a unique way that our students can benefit the community while the community benefits our students,” Barnes says.

Learning by teaching

The program offers a unique experience for both the participating artist and for the CSU students teaching them. The CSU students have the opportunity to learn and provide strategies for accommodating individuals with a variety of challenges.

“Everyone seemed to find a curative outlet in the basic process of making the art, which certainly lead to the overall enjoyment of the class. Each client contributed such a unique and positive element to the whole. It was a remarkable privilege to be part of such a positive promotion of the visual arts,” saying Browning.

Works produced by the artists in the spring were displayed throughout the month of May at the Everyday Joe's Coffee House. For more information on the Artistic Abilities Program, visit

Contact: Anh Ha
Phone: (970) 491-4161