Flying Colors reveals the passion and determination of one man, his student-artists, and their emergence together from a virtual silence to luminous expression. Ten years ago, Tim Lefens walked into the Matheny School in New Jersey to show slides of his paintings; the one-hour visit became a life-changing experience. The students he met had severe physical challenges: only one of them could talk, none could walk, and all lacked the use of their hands. As a painter facing the gradual loss of his own eyesight, Tim had come to fully appreciate the power of art, and he was determined to enable the students to paint despite their physical limitations.
Lefens created breakthrough techniques for the students that brought them full, exacting control of the creative process. Previously seen by the institution as incapable of sophisticated self-expression, in some cases assumed to be mentally deficient, the young artists challenged the staff with their painting, and-against all odds-went on to establish the legitimate value of their work in highly successful gallery shows.
These remarkable painters include Natalia, the spirited seventeen-year-old with the beaded braids and brash wit; the tough, brooding Mike, who is never seen without his trademark Harley-Davidson hat; the wildly mischievous Chet, primed for anything new, the crazier the better; James, talented, sardonic, aloof, and always enjoying the antics of the able-bodied world; Cindy, the passionate cowgirl, wedded to her dream of going home; JR, the most challenged of the class, who finds his voice in explosive bursts of self-expression; Eric, the group philosopher, with the ambition and talent of a great painter; and the volcanic Latino "tracker" Angel, bent on breaking every rule in the book.
Flying Colors is an immensely inspiring story about leaping over obstacles. It is a story of friendship, courage, and the dream that brought a group of forgotten people into the heart of life.