Art show gives self confidence


John Curtis Benitema holds his drawing of a colourful rainbow and tells his mom, Corrie, how he did it.

“It looks a little like the Northern Lights to me,” she says.

His face beams with pride at his mom’s words and from knowing his artwork will be seen by hundreds of patrons at the Petrolia Library.

Benitema’s is one of twelve members of “Ruth’s Artisan Group.” The participants are all special needs and are challenged each week by their leader, Ruth Syer.

Sayers, who worked for years helping special needs students in the school and health care fields, started the private group three years ago. She challenges them to do things they wouldn’t normally do, including head to the library twice a month to create all kinds of art.

After several visits, Librarian Kim Frijia came up with the idea of an art show. “They were creating all this beautiful art …but no one sees them and that was the basis of this show.”

The participants and their families were all on hand Saturday when the art show opened. Sayers says it means a lot to them to see their artwork displayed giving them a sense of pride in their work.

“It fully explains to them how important their art is…it is good for their self confidence.”

Benitema’s mom agrees but she credits Syer’s program and her determination to push John Curtis’ to step out of his comfort zone for boosting her son’s confidence.

“Ruth is an amazing woman,” she says. “He’s completely come out of his shell.” And she says Syer encouraging pushing John Curtis to do things saying ‘I think you can do it, so try.”

And he does. And there is success. Before the Benitema’s had left the library Saturday, John Curtis had sold his artwork to Frijia. She bought it for her son who had been in high school with Benitema.