Karin Davis has a passion for painting and drawing. The ability to create a work of art for herself and others to enjoy is one of the greatest satisfactions she has ever known.
Davis is a breast cancer survivor of six years, but the battle led to the development of fiber myalgia, a connective tissue disorder. Although the illness has affected her mobility and other aspects of her life, she is determined not to let it hinder her ability to paint.
“I’ve been painting and drawing all my life, ever since I could hold a crayon in my hand,” said Davis, 56. “I like to paint people, mostly.”
Davis is one of about 75 artists with disabilities who will be donating their work to the Eighth Annual RampArt Exhibition and Silent Auction on Friday. Proceeds from the event will go to the Services for Independent Living Ramp Project, which provides new ramps at no cost to people with disabilities.
This will be Davis’ fourth year as a participant in the event. Last year, her Aztec painting won a purple ribbon, and some of her other works have sold for $50 to $75 in years past. Such praise is rewarding to Davis, who has never taken any formal art courses.
“It’s a release. I use my art to paint how I feel about something,” Davis said. “Each time it’s a communication between someone who views the art and the one who paints the art. It makes me feel like I made the world prettier.”
RampArt has become an annual community tradition since its beginning in 1996. In addition to the artists with disabilities, local professional artists have donated their work to the cause, along with prizes from area businesses. Their combined efforts have aided in the placement of more than 40 ramps in mid-Missouri homes. Each ramp costs about $1,000 to $1,200 to build, depending on size, said Mark Stone, executive director of Services for Independent Living.
“One of the basics in life that people take for granted is being able to get in and out of your home,” Stone said. “The demand for ramps is extremely high in Columbia. We will never have enough money for the amount of ramps that are needed.”
Lacie Garrett received a ramp from the agency in April. She broke her neck after a fall in April 2002 and remained homebound throughout the long winter. Although she obtained a scooter, she was still unable to get in and out of her trailer without a ramp.
“I count my blessings every day, and SIL is among them,” Garrett said. “I can really move now. I have been able to plant tomatoes around my house and now look forward to picking them.”
Cleo Roberts, a former florist, is also grateful for the help he has received from the agency. A stroke in late 1998 paralyzed his right side, making it difficult and painful to him to go grocery shopping. He had to wait about three months after receiving a scooter for a ramp to be built, but he said the wait was worth it.
“This ramp has helped me to get out and go,” said Roberts. “I get cabin fever, and it’s hard having no family to depend on for help. But SIL has helped me to live independently.”