Art Therapy Helps a Man Find Freedom

Young Man With Physical Disability is Amazing Artist

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While anyone can pick up a paint brush and dabble in the arts, not everyone has the capability to make a masterpiece.

This weekend the Cabin Store in Barnes, Wisconsin showcased a talented artist complete with a silent auction.

Nate Merz is making heads turn not only with his artwork, but the challenges he overcomes to create such beauty.

“One of the paintings here is just of his eyes, because he speaks thru his eyes so often,” explained Sara Balbin, Nate’s Art Therapist.

The artwork is the voice of Nate Merz.

In fact, it’s the only voice Nate truly has.

The non-verbal 32-year-old was born with a neuro-degenerative disorder.

“He is a very special kid, very talented. He touches a lot of people’s hearts. Always has a smile on his face. He is always happy and just lightens up the room,” said Nate’s Brother, Brandon Palmer.

It’s fair to say that Nate is a living portrait of his artwork in many ways.

“The artwork, he started that as art therapy about 5–years ago at Ventures Unlimited in Hayward,” said Nate’s Mother Jane Merz.

Every week for 45-minutes Nate works with his art therapist, Sara Balbin.

What makes his artwork so impressive is that he completes it with just the use of his left hand, the only mobile part of his body.

“He uses the paint brush to direct colors that he wishes to use,” said Balbin.

“It’s quite a complicated process. She has to use special brushes and special technique, but she does help him, turns the canvas when he wants it turned,” said Merz.

The end result and hard work speak for themselves.

“My favorite one is probably the two kids that are fishing in the boat because I envision that being him and my son, Kaden. He painted that for Kaden,” said Palmer.

A stroke of the brush sets Nate free.

“It’s being able to explore and really make a connection with your surroundings,” said Balbin.

It typically takes Nate about 3-months to finish a painting.

All of the proceeds from Sunday’s silent auction will go towards his art fund, to ensure he can continue taking classes.

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