Gentry Groshell, daughter of Amy Gudal Groshell—the founder of Little Star Center, is an amazing artist. Her paintings grace the walls of Little Star’s centers in Carmel and Lafayette, Indiana as well as the Groshell home and the Duval County Public Library in Florida. The demand for her work is such that her canvases and jewelry collection are available for purchase via the website, peaceofheartjewelry.com. Through her talent, Gentry has become an inspiration to other young people with autism and their families.
The story of Gentry’s journey in painting is chronicled in an excerpt in the article, “Healing Through the Arts,” in the September 2012 issue of Autism File Magazine. The piece discusses the Rainbow Artists project which was developed through a partnership with The HEAL Foundation: HEALing Every Autistic Life, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Jacksonville, FL, and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. The art program was initially started by mothers of children with autism: Carol Lombardo, Cynthia Walburn, and Holly Green.
As noted in the article, “Art can play an important role in the lives of many children, teens, and adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It can be therapeutic, and gives the individual with autism an avenue of creativity and self-expression. The activity of art can quell many of the stimulatory behaviors caused by the disorder and be a soothing and calming exercise for the participant. Since many young children with autism have deficiencies in their gross and fine motor skills and are averse to learning new things, teachers and parents should explore the options art offers as a therapeutic tool.”
Gentry has severe autism and is non-verbal and constantly in motion. When her mother noticed that Gentry calmed down when painting, she explored the MOCA program and discovered an outlet for her daughter’s energy and self-expression.
“Family and friends have all shared in the bittersweet journey with Gentry as we’ve navigated the storms of autism and mental illness,” said Amy Groshell. “I am happy that through her art, we have a venue to celebrate her life and all she has overcome. May she continue to inspire us all. God bless Gentry and all the other children, teens and adults trapped inside their minds. May we not pity them, but see their lives as a source of inspiration and beauty.”