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Art of love

Pendleton family’s artwork
offers a child’s perspective

The exhibit opens at the
Trimble County Public Library

By Lela Jane Bradshaw

Contributing Writer
BEDFORD, Ky. (February 2009) – “They are every art teacher’s dream class. I feel privileged to teach them.”
So Vickie Eldridge describes one very special art class she teaches at Apple Tree Studio in Bedford, Ky.
Now, through “The Ahlers Family Exhibit,” one community will have the chance to share in the talent of this “dream class” through a display of drawings. The exhibit allows visitors not only to enjoy the artwork of nine enthusiastic and talented artists, ranging in age from 7 to 19, but also to learn the story of one very special family.
Alicia and Glenn Ahlers of Pendleton, Ky., have eight biological children and “we began to realize that God had been equipping us to be parents,” says Alicia. Describing the decision to adopt as a “ministry call,” the Ahlers became involved with an orphanage in Liberia. Recognizing the particular need of adoptive homes for older children, two years ago the Ahlers welcomed five children between the ages of 12 and 17 to their family.
“A lot of the kids had been at the orphanage for a long long time,”says Ahlers.
“The Ahlers Family Exhibit” is running now through Feb. 14 at the Trimble County Public Library in Bedford. The public is invited to view the artworks anytime during normal library hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
An opening reception for the exhibit is planned for 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, at the library. The public is welcome to come meet the Ahlers. As part of the reception, the children will perform songs in the style of the music they sung while at the orphanage in Liberia.
Over the past year, nine of the the Ahlers’ children have been taking lessons twice a month with Eldridge at Apple Tree studio. These classes were a particularly new experience for the adoptive children, who Ahlers points out had “never done art before.”
“Because the children have not had any formal art training, I decided to start with the basics: the elements of art, shape, line, color, texture, etc. We have worked with pencil, pen, colored pencils, crayon, and origami at this point. They are learning the fundamentals and learning to use their imaginations,” Eldridge said.
As an instructor, she has had the pleasure of seeing their talent and creativity expand. “I am most proud of them because they are not afraid to take risks with their artwork. They enjoy the ‘happy accidents’ that result when they engage their right brain,” she says. Eldridge describes the pieces in the display as “projects to engage the imaginations of this family. Art is very healing and comforting. We learn things about ourselves when we begin to create.”
The Ahlers Family Exhibit is part of a series of art displays being shown at the Trimble County Library. Director Kathy McKown finds these exhibits particularly exciting “Because we get to feature local artists. We have different artists every month and they are fantastic.”
By showcasing area talent, the library allows patrons to learn more about the exciting work taking place right in their own community.
Eldridge believes that the combination of the children’s drawings and their experiences make for a uniquely moving exhibit. “We feel that the public should see what is going on around us. This family not only has some beautiful pieces of artwork, they also have a story to tell that can touch all of us and make us see the world in a different way.”

• For more information about Apple Tree Studio, please visit www.appletreestudio.spaces.live.com or call (502) 255-4030.

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