Last updated: February 19. 2013 3:34PM - 487 Views

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Two Dallas artists have had their work chosen for display during the nation's largest juried exhibition and sale of works created by artists with cognitive, physical, hearing and visual disabilities.

The Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital's Annual Art Ability Exhibit selected 33-year-old Billy Sukus for his piece entitled 26 Fe Iron and 35-year-old Pat Cleary for his piece entitled Beadweaver.

Both artists attend the Verve Vertu Art Studio, Deutsch Institute for individuals with disabilities in downtown Wilkes-Barre. They were two of six students from Verve Vertu whose work was chosen for display in the Bryn Mawr show this year.

Cleary, who has been at Verve Vertu for almost two years, combines his love of collecting shoelaces with his abilities to create colorful art. His mother, Marianne Cleary, said that Patrick has been collecting shoelaces since he was a little boy. When a family friend sold her business, she brought a lifetime supply of shoelaces to Patrick, who knew just what to do with them.

Cleary lives with Downs Syndrome, but his mother said that being at Verve Vertu has helped her son to socialize, express himself, build his confidence and help him to deal with the loss of his brother Michael, who died in 2010 while serving in Iraq.

With the help of the staff at Verve Vertu, Cleary has found a creative outlet. His mother says he has taken an interest in photography also and is partial to photographing sunsets. Cleary has been working on landscape pieces using shoestrings since his completion of the piece for the art exhibit. This is the second year Cleary's work was chosen for the Bryn Mawr exhibit.

Sukus has been an artist with Verve Vertu for almost six years. His family is thankful to Verve Vertu for providing him with a way to overcome the communications challenges that often come with a diagnosis of autism.

It helps him to be able to put what's in his mind down on paper and gives him a way to communicate that he couldn't do verbally, said Lisa Sukus, Billy's sister.

This is the third year Sukus' work has been chosen for the exhibit in Bryn Mawr. His father, Bill Sukus, is very proud of his son and says Billy's artistic ability helps form an identity and helps people to focus on his ability rather than his disability.

Sukus works with many mediums, including acrylic paints and block printing and his work often features geometric designs. His mother, Debra Meyers, is grateful that her son has found an outlet that allows him to show us what's on the inside.

The piece Sukus prepared for the exhibit was made using iron oxide provided by The Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. It combined the history of the area with a creative eye to make a truly unique work of art.

Cleary's and Sukus' work will be on display starting today through Jan. 20, 2013 at the Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern.

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