Nashville artist, 25-year-old Bernadette Resha, is displaying 18 pieces of her artwork at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt from now through the end of December.
Resha, who has Down Syndrome, is a relatively new artist, working intensively on her craft in just the last two years. Up to now, she has been busy doing other things. She was named the best athlete in the Tennessee Special Olympics for 1994. She was a public speaker and representative for Easter Seals in 2000. Resha has acted in a movie, TV commercials and a music video and performs with a magician troupe that has traveled internationally.
"Bernadette began by taking a class at Cheekwood and liked it so well she started working on paintings every day," said her mother, Gwenn Resha. "She especially likes her classes at the Centennial Park Arts Center and still goes to Cheekwood as well. She really has developed her own style and loves painting butterflies and birds, scenes in nature."
Donna Glassford, director of Cultural Enrichment for VUMC, said she was totally impressed by the self confidence and artistic skill Resha exhibits.
"The love and support her family has shown her has really allowed her to blossom," Glassford said. "Rather than feeling as if Down Syndrome set some kind of bar she would never rise above, her family has focused on what could be. Here's a family that through challenges and adversity are working together to give Bernadette a chance to give back through her art."
Glassford said selecting Resha's work was a simple choice because the work is excellent, but she especially likes the example Bernadette can set for people who will see the exhibit.
"Some families who come through our Children's Hospital have infants or young children with Down Syndrome and I would love for them to celebrate the fact that creativity can bring so much joy and pleasure to everyone's life," said Glassford. "My hope is that everyone who sees the exhibit will leave with the understanding that people who have what are considered to be disabilities possess a lot of talent and passion which they express artistically."
"This is a family that always has seen what could be, not what isn't there," Glassford said.
See for yourself: Bernadette Resha's artwork is on display in the Gallery of Excellence behind the pharmacy on "Main Street" on the 2nd Floor of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt through December 31. Cards with her designs are also available at the Friends Gift Shop at the hospital.