Andrea Cass and Debbie Mullaney, co-presidents of the DLDA, estimate about 75 students ages pre-school through high school will participate in the exhibit this year.
Most of the artwork that will be on display in the Grand Hall this month has been created in a classroom setting.
"DLDA provides 16 by 20 canvases, paint and paintbrushes, and we send them to every Special Education teacher in the Boyle, Garrard, Mercer and Lincoln County school districts," Cass explained.
After that, it's up to the individual teachers to decide how the art activity is incorporated into class.
Cass encouraged her students to paint one of their favorite things. "One student painted a portrait of a teacher he really liked, another painted a truck," she said.
Sometimes teachers make art as well. "We always have a really good response from the teachers," Cass noted.
The quality of the paintings can be striking - in particular, those from the pre-school students at the Wilderness Trace Child Development Center - have always impressed her.
Almost all of the pieces in the exhibit will be for sale. Each canvas costs $25; the student artist receives $20, and $5 goes back to the DLDA to help cover the costs of materials.
"Some students don't want to sell their artwork," Cass said, "but most are excited that someone wants to purchase something they've made. These kids usually don't get the accolades in sports and academics, so this is their night to shine."
Irene Hoskins, mother to 14-year-old Payton Aitken, who has autism, is enthusiastic about the show. She said it's unusual to find programs like this in communities the size of Danville.
"This is a unique program that lets our kids get some really positive attention, and some of the artwork is outstanding," Hoskins said. "These kids see with a different perspective, and isn't that what art's all about?"
The open reception for "The Hands that Touch the Heart" exhibit will be April 16 at the Community Arts Center. Last year, the event drew nearly 350 people.
"It was great to see the students' faces and positive reaction to the show of support from the community. They were thrilled," noted Donna Decker, DLDA Treasurer, and Melissa Caudill, of the autism group.
The leaders of both the Danville Learning Disabilities Association and the Boyle County Autism Support Group are confident of continued community support at this year's exhibit.
"We are looking forward to an even larger turnout this year. The entire community has been so supportive and each year we have increased awareness of the art show and our student's outstanding efforts," they said.
For more information about the Danville Learning Disabilities Association, call Andrea Cass at (859) 583-1948 or Donna Decker at (859) 319-0636.
Those interested in knowing more about the Boyle County Autism Support Group can contact Melissa Caudill at (859) 236-8812 or Julie Decoteau at (859) 238-0062.
Second Floor Galleries Exhibit: Arts Cart group exhibit
Also during the month of April, the Community Arts Center will exhibit works of art made by participants in its Arts Cart program. The outreach program, presented by the CAC and funded by a Hudson-Ellis grant through the Bluegrass Community Foundation, delivers free, on-site art activities to groups in the region that might otherwise be unable to benefit from arts offerings at the CAC.
Now in its second year of operation, the program - dubbed "Arts with Heart" - has served a diverse cross-section of the Danville community.
"We work with adults with mental disabilities (such as Pioneer Industrial Vocational Services and Advocate Homes), emotionally disturbed children (such as the Comprehensive Care children's program), other organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters - we've even done an activity with the National Guard," said Brandon Long, programming director at the Community Arts Center.