- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Inside a narrow hall in the back of the PS Gallery, 14-year-old Sara Liebig pointed to a rectangular painting with a pink border hanging in the middle of the exhibit.

A faint, penciled-in peacock was covered with splotches of pink, yellow, blue and green paint. A card tucked into the corner of the piece, called “Untitled,” revealed a $55 price tag.

Liebig smiled as she pointed at the vibrant painting. This one was her own creation.

About 35 pieces of artwork were displayed and up for sale at the Arts for Autism reception. Liebig, along with dozens of classmates, created the art through the Arts for Autism program at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. The program runs for three weeks each spring and fall, and participants can either keep their work or put them up for donation to support the center.

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune (https://bit.ly/1xQkbOm ), paintings at the gallery ranged from $35 to $65 in price. Within an hour, several paintings had been sold.

Six other pieces - including two photos, three prints of paintings and an original painting donated by local artists Sarah Leituala, Teriko, David Spear and Katie Barnes - were offered as part of a silent auction during the event.

“We’re just happy people in the community came out to support the kids,” said Adrienne Cornwall, spokeswoman for the Thompson Center.

Liebig’s mother, Laquita, said she was impressed with the Arts for Autism program. Laquita took part in a class and helped Sara create a ceramic bowl, which she said is on display in her daughter’s room.

The Liebig family, who are residents of Centralia, heard about the program through the Thompson Center, where Sara is a patient.

Connie Brooks, a psychologist at the Thompson Center, said exercising creative talent helps kids with communication problems express themselves. Unlike talking, art needs no words or gestures.

Brooks strolled with scores of people who clinked cocktail glasses and observed the gallery’s pieces.

“I’m blown away with the turnout,” Brooks said.

The Art for Autism auction is the first fundraiser for the Thompson Center in 2015. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the center’s founding at the University of Missouri.

The gallery runs until March 15, with paintings available for purchase until the exhibit closes.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com


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