Kayleigh Trott and Ellen Usher are really into circles. They draw them on everything; whiteboards, big sheets of white paper and sometimes even on the walls. And with each new circle they draw they are helping to bring the arts to their Manteo community.
Trott, who works as a direct support professional at the Beach Club of Manteo and provides support to Ellen, has always loved art and when she first came to work at the Beach Club she noticed all of the art and craft supplies at the day program.
“I thought, we can definitely do some things with this,” Trott said.
At first, Usher would just write her name and draw circles with the supplies. Then they started working with other materials like yarn and stamps, and when the Beach Club moved to their newest location, Usher and Trott picked out a room just for their artwork. Trott noticed that Usher would draw circles on the marker boards around the Beach Club and on some of the walls, which got Trott thinking.
“I remembered that the Special Olympics does something called ‘Project Unified.’ It is teams of people with and without disabilities working together and I started thinking about doing that with art. Whatever circles Ellen drew I would go in and see what I could make out of her circles. I sometimes go back over it with paint or we make flowers. We’ve even made an octopus. We call it our masterpieces.”
Their masterpieces have gained recognition. This past May, Usher and Trott entered a piece called "The Circles That Unify" into the Molly Fearing Art Show hosted by the Dare County Art Council and their work was put on display for the community. One of their paintings was also featured as the selected artwork for the poster promoting the Dare County Arts Council’s 26th Annual Artrageous Extravaganza.
Recently Trott also had the opportunity to create the outline of a mural at the Beach Club which has helped start new connections with local artists and the Dare County Arts Council.
“Being asked to draw the mural was an honor in itself, but watching the people we support and our community come together to paint something I had drawn was an amazing moment.”
For Trott, art helps bridge the divide between the local community and the people we support, but it has also helped her to connect with Usher even more that she thought possible.
“Art is something we both can do together. There’s no barrier,” she said. “She has taught me that patience is a virtue and that anything is possible. She has taught me that the simplest of shapes has the possibility to take you further than you could ever imagine. She has taught me that people with and without disabilities can work and come together, to unify, and make the world a masterpiece.”