301 20th Street South, Irondale , AL 35210
Studio By The Tracks (SBTT), a non-profit organization, was formed in 1989 to provide free art classes to emotionally conflicted children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder or mental illness. SBTT maintains a focused, energized atmosphere that provides our students a haven in which to create. We encourage a supportive and nonjudgmental climate necessary to nurture creative abilities, enhance self-esteem, and explore alternative ways of coping with emotional and physical conflict.
“The impact of Studio By The Tracks has been much greater than we ever imagined”, Director Ila Faye Miller states. “It’s much more than free art classes. It’s about providing a safe, positive experience for people who have been handicapped by negative circumstances and society’s assumptions about their ability to achieve.”
Since most of the adult students do not have a chance to work and earn a living, the Studio provides an invaluable opportunity for public and financial validation. SBTT provides opportunities for our students to showcase and sell their artwork through our annual fundraisers and seasonal gallery shows. Sixty percent of the proceeds of each sale go directly to the artist. Perhaps even more important is the feeling of pride and accomplishment that the artist receives.
While the autistic community as a whole has grown recently, the number of programs and services to support this growing group has not kept up with that pace. For many of our adult students, SBTT provides a much-needed social avenue for self-expression and growth. The artwork created by these students becomes a tool that allows them not only a creative outlet but also an opportunity to focus on their strengths and interests rather than on their limitations.
In the afternoons, SBTT offers art classes to approximately thirty boys, ages 6-17, in residential treatment programs. These boys have been identified by the court system or social services as emotionally conflicted or at-risk for leading destructive lifestyles, often involving violence and drugs. Low self-esteem and a lack of social and academic skills make these young people vulnerable to failure in society. Since its inception, more than 1,000 at-risk children have benefited from SBTT classes.