From an early age, Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith loved creating art, which led her to become a puppetry artist and sculptor as an adult.
She was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 2012. Sometimes called Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a rapidly progressive neurological disorder that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. But she didn’t let the disease stop her from expressing creativity. She now uses her feet to paint.
“I am most proud of the fact that I am still thriving despite the changes my body has gone through,” said Abromaitis-Smith. “I think my best work has come out of me pushing against my limitations. Painting has given me life again. I have a purpose to make the world more beautiful than when I arrived. I consider myself a caterpillar who has turned into a butterfly and I want to help others living with disabilities learn to fly.”
Abromaitis-Smith is one of 11 artists who provided one-of-a-kind, multi-colored paintings and drawings featured on Starbucks Cards this holiday.
The limited-edition cards are preloaded with $100 and available to purchase while supplies last starting today (November 30) at ArtLifting.com. The full purchase price for each of the Starbucks Cards will go directly to the artists. Starbucks will also contribute $100,000 to ArtLifting’s fund that helps strengthen art services for local communities including art programming at social service agencies, shelters and disability centers.
“I feel free when I am creating art. I am transported beyond my chair while working on a piece,” Abromaitis-Smith added. “I make art because I need to articulate the things in life that have no words. Making and experiencing art allows me to feel the deeper richness that life has to offer.”
Below is the Starbucks card Abromaitis-Smith designed.
Bringing Light to Creativity
The painters and illustrators who contributed to the Starbucks Card designs work with ArtLifting, a company that empowers people with disabilities or those who experience homelessness. The company launched in November 2013 with four artists. Today, it supports 100 artists in 16 states across the U.S.
“All of our artists have incredible stories and talents which have, until now, essentially remained invisible. For many of them, joining ArtLifting has been their first opportunity to receive validation and earn income for these talents,” said Kelly McKenna, Chief Operating Officer for ArtLifting. “Since we started the company, we’ve seen over and over how life has opened up for our artists after coming on board. The process of celebrating their talents, rather than focusing on negatives, shifts what many of them believe they are capable of as artists and individuals.”
ArtLifting helps its artists determine which paintings or illustrations to sell and at what price. They also sell print reproductions through their website and collaborate with companies to print artwork on merchandise such as tote bags, phone cases, and most recently, Starbucks Cards.
“We are thrilled for this partnership with Starbucks. It’s hard to put into words how each artist felt when we told them about the opportunity. Aside from the earned income and pride it will provide to them, we hope that it also helps change how customers might view the populations we work with,” McKenna said.
“ArtLifting has a mission and values that are similar to ours,” said Ryan Records, vice president, Starbucks Card and Payments. “As we learned more about the company's story and its artists, and saw some of their amazing work, we knew that we wanted to share it with our customers.”
Photo credit: Ali Campbell