- Community Development
Like many of us, Digital Artist and Artists’ Village resident Brittany Granville started the year off with hope and optimism for what would be in store for her. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the path she had anticipated, but that same path would also lead to a series of unexpected opportunities.
At age 26, Brittany was diagnosed with autism. Before her diagnosis, Brittany remembers feeling defeated - she was unemployed for two years and she thought she could never buy a home. Once she learned of her diagnosis, she struggled to accept it. “I thought I was a failure. I ended up joining my local autism group and then I realized I just had a different way of communicating and thinking”, says Brittany. Now, she spends most of her time working as a Disability Specialist for the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute.
Brittany became inspired to be an artist as a young girl. “I have always drawn since I was little. I used to watch Bugs Bunny and wanted to draw cartoons that were on TV. I thought they were really cool and funny”, she says. Her artistic career led her to becoming a member of Art Inc. Kentucky. and soon thereafter, a new homeowner in the Artists’ Village, a shared live-work community for artists in Lexington’s East End. The Artists’ Village is made possible because of the support of generous funding partners including the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Republic Services, Bluegrass Community Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, Old National Bank, German American Bank, and WesBanco.
Despite her initial concerns about being unable to purchase a home, Brittany found her path to homeownership to be fairly smooth. She discovered an event on Facebook for local artists being hosted by Art Inc. Kentucky, and then she learned about the Artists’ Village. After contacting Art Inc. Kentucky President Mark Johnson, she discovered that purchasing a home could be within reach, so she worked with Community Ventures to begin the process of becoming a first-time homebuyer. “I thought it would be hard for me to find a home I could afford. The process ended up being easier and I ended up saving money in the long run”, said Brittany.
Months after settling in her new home, Brittany discovered yet another important opportunity. She was approached by Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Director of UK’s Human Development Institute, about her interest in illustrating a children’s book Kathy was writing. After becoming the go-to designer for her department, her co-workers took notice and concluded she would be a great fit for this project. The book was titled, “You Can Do So Many Things” and is an inspiring story about a girl who wanted to work with horses but was told she couldn’t because of her disability. The girl overcomes these challenges and finds different ways to work with the horses. “I thought it was a really good message not only for the disabled, but for everyone”, says Brittany. It took Brittany six months to illustrate the book, and her illustrations quickly received positive feedback from people who were proud to see the diversity showcased in the book. Unexpectedly, “You Can Do So Many Things” was nominated for a literary award in the the children’s category of the EQUUS Film Festival, an event that rewards the diverse and creative efforts of those who pay homage to horses through media. A short time later, Brittany learned that the book WON the award. “It felt pretty cool to have my work acknowledged and appreciated”, Brittany commented.
Despite all of the challenges the pandemic has caused, Brittany was still able to source her happiness from what she loved to do the most. “Try not to push yourself to make art - take a break, watch a movie, go for a walk. This pandemic has left a lot of people feeling uncreative and unmotivated . . . we are all just trying to survive”, Brittany says.
Congratulations to Brittany and to Kathy Sheppard-Jones, the book’s author, on their award! Art Inc. Kentucky and Community Ventures are proud to support a community of talented, hardworking individuals such as Brittany Granville and look forward to more success stories like hers!