Artist believes disabilities shouldn’t hold one back from creating
From the Aiken Standard
Article by Stephanie Turner
Throughout his career, artist and art educator Carter Boucher has worked with various ages with various skill levels and abilities.
One demographic that he teaches comprises children, teenagers and adults with disabilities.
Since his first class with this demographic, he’s taught people in wheelchairs, with autism, with Alzheimer’s Disease, without limbs and prone to panic attacks, to name just a handful.
Boucher started this specific endeavor in the 1980s.
Through certain programs, he would visit schools and noticed that students with special needs were often not invited to program’s classes.
“I started going to the principals and just saying, ‘We ought to include those kids,'” Boucher said. “It was sort of a surprise to them that I wanted to do that. … I feel like populations like that particularly benefit from doing things. A lot of times they get left out.”
Based in Anderson County, Boucher has taught students throughout South Carolina and will teach a set of classes in Aiken this summer.
When he knows about his class’s students, Boucher will prepare so he is best able to accommodate each person’s needs.
Some of his classes have consisted of students with different disabilities, and he said he tries to tune into what each student needs while the class is in session.
“The more you know about who’s coming and whatever their situation is then the better you can work with,” he said.
The art teacher has tools such as scissors for people with hand problems. He has contacted schools to see if the student needs any special equipment and if he can then borrow it.
If Boucher sees a condition listed on the roster with which he hasn’t encountered or has any questions, he will contact a physician for more information or reach out to someone who has worked with the student to see if there is anything which Boucher needs to be aware.
One example of how he has adjusted his approach can be seen in a class of autistic children.
“Sometimes, I would slow down the process,” he said. “For instance, if we were doing silkscreen pencil stencils, I would let them tear or cut or whatever they want to do to make an image, and it would often draw them out. I got a lot of comments from the teachers who worked with autistic kids how much it seemed to draw them out and get them doing things.”
He’s had a student tell him that his class was the first time they felt like they were really part of a class.
“What surprises a lot of people who watch me work with the kids is how much they do on their own,” Boucher said. “Whatever it is we do with them and however they accomplish it, … they feel like they own this artwork. It wasn’t something we did. It was something they did.”
Boucher is an Arts Access SC master artist who creates fine art or illustrations with different mediums and methods such as oil, gouache, etching, wood engraving, silk screen and airbrushing.
He will be the instructor of the Aiken Center for the Arts’ new creative day camp, I Spy Art & Music Camp.
The camp is for ages 5 to 13 with cognitive and physical disabilities such as traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy.
It will run from June 12-16 from 10 a.m. to noon or from 1 to 3 p.m. at the arts center, 122 Laurens St. S.W.
The camps are free, but enrollment is limited.
“(Art) builds confidence. It lowers anxiety and activates parts of the brain that help with almost every subject,” Boucher said.
He will have some helpers present and is planning for the students to make paper mache masks, work with screenprinting and make music with simple tonal musical instruments that anyone can use.
If the young artist has any specific triggers or needs, it is recommended the parent or guardian include that information.