Access Arts is making art more accessible for people with special needs

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COLUMBIA – Access Arts offers a weekly art class for people with special needs. Students channel their inner creativity as they work on a new clay-building project each week.

Art teacher Hannah Nicks chooses projects to specifically focus on different hand building skills. Some focus on coiling or using clay slabs while others use templates to cut out clay and utilize special tools.

Nicks said she isn’t strict about the class following her directions perfectly.

“They usually change up what I have planned,” she said. “But that’s okay, as long as they have a good time.”

Participants said they enjoy making the different projects. Cindy Boyd said her favorite part of the class is getting to work with her hands.

Nicks chose pinch-pots for one the class project. Each person started out with a ball of clay and was instructed pinch the clay to form a bowl. Then each person chose what they wanted to make out of their pinch pot. Students rolled, poked and molded their clay into a variety of creatures.  

“We are making a bunny rabbit right now out of the pinch pot,” Nicks said. “Other people are doing creepy monsters or fish.”

Art Access is a non-profit organization. It offers more than 200 scheduled classes each week for adults and children including graphic arts, photography, painting, weaving, papermaking, 3-D art, clay hand building and wheel throwing.