Breaking Ground 100 Arts - Introduction

Introduction letter by Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

Throughout history, art has offered a way for humans to tell our stories and express the deepest and truest things about our lives, feelings, and experiences in ways that rise above simple facts and information. Art can be an especially meaningful and effective outlet for those pushed to the edges of our society, whose voices are less often heard, and whose experiences are least understood. Through art, we can connect with those whose voices we most need to hear.

This is our 100th issue of Breaking Ground. It is fitting that this milestone arrives with our annual arts issue. I look forward to the arts issue every year. In these pages, we celebrate the remarkable, beautiful, and sometimes heart-breaking self-expression of Tennesseans with disabilities.

I am personally moved to see artwork in this issue from someone dear to my heart. We grieved with Council member Karen West this past year, when she lost her daughter, Tabitha.  Tabitha brought joy to so many during her short life. Tabitha did not communicate with speech, but her art gave us a window into her inner world. It’s no surprise to anyone who knew her that those glimpses are stunningly beautiful.

I hope you enjoy this 100th issue of Breaking Ground as much as we have enjoyed getting it ready for you.

Wanda Willis

Executive Director

Introduction letter by Tennessee Arts Commission

The Tennessee Arts Commission is once again honored to co-sponsor the Council’s annual Breaking Ground Arts Issue. During this past year, we have brought arts programs to older adults, rural communities, people serving in the military, veterans and their families, and the homeless. Many people within these groups are living with disabilities.

To reach people who have limited access to the arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, in partnership with the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability, received a $1 million grant. The grant is through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Tennessee Health Department. The grant is to provide the Tennessee Person-Centered Music Program to more than 2,200 nursing home residents, including those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The goal of the program is to use music to reduce medication use and negative behaviors while improving health and quality of life.

Nursing homes throughout Tennessee can learn more about the program and how to participate by contacting the Project Director, Quiteka Moten, at, 615-532-1834, or visiting

The Tennessee Arts Commission is proud to work with partners like the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities and Borderless Arts Tennessee to ensure that all people have the chance to engage in the arts. For more information about the Tennessee Arts Commission, visit our website at

Kim Johnson

Director of Arts Access

TN Arts Commission

Introduction letter by Borderless Arts Tennessee

Borderless Arts Tennessee has been honored to partner with the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities throughout the years to enhance inclusion for people with disabilities. We are proud of the progress that has been made by working together on projects like webinars, professional development certifications, and conversations on breaking down barriers. The Breaking Ground Arts Issue is just one more opportunity for exposure and awareness. Borderless Arts TN is proud to be a partner in such a worthy effort.

Lori Kissinger

Executive Director

Borderless Arts Tennessee