HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - We have an update for you on a local artist. While her love of art continues to grow, so does the love for her work.
We first met Dana Anderson two years ago. She was sitting beside Sherry Broyles, the executive director of the Inside Out Studio at Lowe Mill. Sherry was helping Dana by putting paint where the young artist wanted it on a canvas.
Dana’s mother, Janet Anderson, brought Dana to the studio to give her an activity. Inside Out Studio is for artists with special needs. Dana has down syndrome and autism.
After a few visits, something clicked, something special. “We noticed an emerging artist coming out,” Janet said, “The work she does is incredible here, raw talent.” Dana was painting several hours a week.
“It's changed Dana's life,” Janet told us. Art gives Dana a voice. “Dana is more than non-verbal. She's low functioning. She doesn't care for herself,” Janet said, “She can't read, write or speak. And this endeavor in art really does become her voice for the community.”
That voice has become loud and clear. “There's many fascinating things about Dana as an artist but one of the most fascinating has been watching her grow as an artist,” Sherry Broyles told us.
Dana’s first show was at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. “That in itself is a huge step for special needs population,” Janet said, “Dana will be the very first ever, most challenged artist in the state to have her very own art exhibit.”
Later that year, she made broad strokes in the art world with an exhibit at Atlanta’s Tull Hall. "It takes you to the place, to the feeling Dana must have when she does it," remarked one visitor. Another added, “I love that the fact that the name of the exhibit is Beyond Barriers because we're past the barriers, there are no barriers."
But there is more to be done. “We're trying to get Dana into a museum because that’s a barrier that has not been broken yet,” Janet said. One way to help that happen is to continue to get her work out in front of more people.
“We just fell in love with the idea of promoting Dana specifically and Inside Out Art Gallery,” Dan Thompson told us sitting in the dining room of Mario’s at Five Points in Huntsville. Dan is a manager.
Mario’s gives local artists a place to showcase their talents. “The fact that there is a certain sense of purpose. You know, her strokes are very determinant, and it seems like there is a feeling conveyed with each piece,” Dan said looking up at one of the pieces on the wall, “And it gives her a chance to get that out there.”
25 pieces that are for sale are on exhibit at the restaurant through the end of March. “Art has really opened up her life and we couldn’t be more thankful for Inside Out Studio,” Janet told us. 100 of Dana’s paintings have been sold and now hang in 35 states.
“She's proud of her work and that is something that is amazing as a parent,” Janet said, “She knows that other people enjoy her work.” And if you ask, Dana will show you which one she likes best.
Taking her hand, she walked with me and pointed to her favorite that’s on display right now. Dana’s art speaks for itself. Dana’s website is danaandersonart.com.