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Civic Impact

INSPIREPGH: Art students inspired by kids with sickle cell disease

Derrick Davis and his fellow members of INSPIREPGH – a group formed by Art Institute of Pittsburgh students to give back to the community – have been meeting with kids who have sickle cell disease on many Saturdays since December at the Children’s Institute. 
 
The art student group had originally connected with the Children's Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc. through their school’s graphic design curriculum, which gives advanced students the chance to help local community organizations with free design services.
 
But the relationship has deepened. "We first met the kids around Christmas,” recalls Davis, president of INSPIREPGH.  “We helped them pick out Christmas gifts. I had no idea there were so many children with this disease – and how passionate they were about art. We wanted to show them they could do anything they wanted to, that they can't be held back."
 
Explains Tamara Pavlock, academic chair of graphic design, web and interactive media at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh: “They felt it would help the children with their pain to do these art projects.The strength of these children is amazing."
 
Now INSPIREPGH is holding ARTICULATE ART, an auction fundraiser at Sonoma Grille downtown on March 20, emceed by Franco Dok Harris.
 
Participants will have the opportunity to bid on original works by local artists and photographers Duane Rieder, Scott Smathers, Mark Bender, Terese Jungle, Mick Opalko, Elizabeth Castonquay and Karl Huber. Rieder and Smathers are Art Institute alumni, while the others are school faculty members. Pavlock, Davis and his fellow INSPIREPGH officers are also preparing artwork inspired by the kids whom they’ve met through the foundation. 
 
"We have such a great relationship with them,” concludes Pavlock about the foundation. She expects her students to continue this relationship – and their time with the kids – in the future.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Derrick Davis and Tamara Pavlock, Art Institute of Pittsburgh
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