Non-Profit YAI Sees Beyond Perceived Limitations, Showcases Those With Creative Gifts

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some local artists who beat the odds are now getting the chance of a lifetime. Their pieces will take center stage at an art gala on Thursday night.

Every shadow, every line, every angle Robert Jenkins Jr. purposely draws for his masterpieces tells just a tiny part of his life story.

“I do it neatly, and also I want to make sure I get it right before I start painting,” Jenkins told CBS 2’s Alex Denis on Wednesday.

Jenkins, like the rest of those creative people taking part, has a lofty goal.

“Maybe, some day, I’ll get known and I’ll be a famous artist,’ Amy Rosenfield said.

If you don’t know these driven creators, it may seem like an unattainable dream. But, this group continues to defy the odds.

“I will never stop drawing. I will never give up my dream,’ Michelle Wensma said.

Their determination, and undeniable talent, earned them each the prestigious title as “artist” for YAI, a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

They have Seema Moondra to thank for seeing beyond their limitations. She teaches the artists techniques, skill sets, and prepares them for art shows.

She may be their biggest fan, but she expects their best.

“She told me to do it perfect. I did it perfect,” artist Daniel Lindenberg said.

The endless effort paid off. Their works will take center stage at a major art gala Thursday evening at Chelsea Piers. The owner of Six Summit Gallery will auction off the aspiring artist’s paintings, alongside respected professionals.

“Art levels the playing field,” Moondra said. “I do not need to know that they have a disability, because they are extremely good at what they do.”

As show time gets closer, gratitude overwhelmed the hard workers.

“When I saw that picture I said, ‘I can’t believe that’s me,’” artist Jerry Lipsky said.

Thanks to a little guidance — and a whole lot of talent.

Their voices, on display through their art, will resonate throughout the silent auction.

You can purchase the paintings at Thursday’s gala. In all, 60 percent of the YAI art sales will go back to the artists as a source of income. The remaining 40 percent will be donated to the non-profit organization, Denis reported.

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