Moomah the Magazine
Meet Young Artist: Kade

Meet Young Artist: Kade

One of the many things we love about Moomah the Magazine is that it provides us with the opportunity to meet some truly inspiring young artists. We are constantly in awe of the works they turn out, and we love learning about what motivates and encourages these young minds to produce such imaginative stuff. One of the many young artists that we have had the pleasure of getting to know is Kade Byrand. When we saw his work, immediately we were blown away by Kade's obvious talent as a skilled artist. 

However, this talent was not always something that Kade was sure about or necessarily proud of. Growing up, Kade has admitted to being shy and unsure about putting pen to paper and expressing himself in such a way. He often did not hold his pencil correctly, and it was not until an inspiring teacher paired him with another kind and sensitive class-mate, Mimi, that Kade finally felt the confidence he needed. A safe environment and some encouragement gave Kade the confidence to explore his talent and share it with others. Below is an account by Kade's mother Sherri, documenting Kade's journey.

“Forever Means Forever.” Those are the words occupational therapist Steve Hodges told my son Kade and me last year, bringing us both to tears.  Steve’s words and the revelation that came with them had caught us off-guard, but in hindsight, we both should have known better.

Back in kindergarten, Kade could barely hold a pencil, and he most certainly didn’t want to. That was when Steve started to work with Kade, at the suggestion of Kade’s classroom teacher, Jodi Kimme.  Kade was, writes Steve, “a student that had extraordinary ideas but was literally reluctant to put any of it onto paper or into drawings. Kade would rather converse and discuss than write or draw.  As one can imagine, this made life difficult and, at times, miserable for Kade in a school setting.”

Kade’s reluctance was related to what is labeled an “immature grasp.” If made to use a pencil or pen, he would hold it in the most unusual way; it looked incredibly uncomfortable, so it was no wonder he would want to immediately put the pencil back down. No matter how many times we would show him how to grasp the pencil, he wouldn’t be able to follow through, but resorted to that odd, bent, clawlike grasp.

We tried to help him in a number of ways, from grips slid over pencils to a special glove and weights on his wrist. We tried various strategies to correct and strengthen his grip, from having him write on vertical surfaces to even writing on paper taped to the underside of tables, forcing his arm above him.

Through all these attempts and more, Steve expressed incredible patience and empathy for Kade’s special needs, always searching for ways to motivate Kade to keep trying. Explains Steve, “During assessments, in the cloud of secrecy, Kade showed that even with this unusual grasp, he could draw and make pictures.  It appeared that it wasn’t so much the ‘immature’ grasp, as it is sometimes called, but rather the confidence to perform writing and drawing tasks in the large setting that was holding him back.”

One day, all of that empathy and patience paid off: Steve asked Kade to draw a city on a whiteboard, to please spend as much time as necessary, rather than giving up quickly. Writes Steve, “I told Kade that when he was finished with that drawing, I would never erase it nor take it down . . .”

It was, as Steve has since described it, “a breakthrough moment.” He added, “. . . this miniscule capsule in time helped launch Kade into showing others and himself what he was capable of.”  Spending a long time drawing, Kade created, as Steve describes it, “the most magnificent city with as much attention to detail as one could imagine.”

Years and years later, on the last day of 6th grade, when I picked up Kade at his middle school, he asked if we could go see his former teachers. We drove over to Grant School/Elementary School of Arts and Academics, where we saw Steve in his office. Steve smiled, invited us in, and asked Kade to look behind the door. There on the wall was hanging the whiteboard, still with the city Kade had drawn all those years before. Kade looked at it with complete surprise, believing that it would have been long erased. Steve reminded him, “I said I would keep it forever, and forever means forever.”

I cried, as did Kade.  We could not believe Steve’s dedication to keeping his promise, but then really we shouldn’t have been surprised at all given how dedicated he had been in working with Kade for nearly six years. Since then, Steve related that many of his students have asked about Kade’s whiteboard drawing when they see it.  Steve tells them of how the artist didn’t think he could draw, wouldn’t even try, but once he did, that’s what he accomplished. So now Kade’s drawing helps Steve to motivate other children to draw too, and this is what Kade is the most proud of.

But within that story is another truth:  the one showing what Steve’s patience, empathy, and creativity – along with much help from Kade’s other compassionate teachers – were able to accomplish for Kade. Because of them, he found the courage to put pencil to paper despite that “immature grasp.”

Because of these amazing people, Kade eventually improved even the grasp itself. Without them, I don’t think he would be drawing at all. And that is something I will forever be grateful for. That, and how Steve promises he will never take Kade's drawing down – well, not until he retires. Then he will take it home.

Recently, we caught up with Kade and got to know him a little better.

1. What inspires you to make art?

There is just some urge about me that makes me want to create. Besides drawing, I love to write, act and make animations and movies.
I make art so I can express who I am, what I have in my mind and get my thoughts out in the open. I also like to make drawings for other people. I like to make drawings of something they like, to make them happy, which in turn makes me happy.

2. Where do you like to create your art?

I work at the desk in the office space on our second floor. I like the solitude and it's calm up there. I also have a sketchbook that I take with me wherever we go and pull it out to draw the scenery. I also enjoy drawing random sketches at school just to improve my art skills.


3. If you could use your artwork to raise money for charity, who would you choose to donate that money to?

I would like to give money to a charity that would improve the lives of poor people in the United States and developing countries. I want to make sure that these people have the technology they need to live healthy lives and have a safer environment and cleaner water. It would also be good to help Sheboygan’s Theater for Young Audiences. I’ve worked with them for several years and see that it is a great way for people to improve their social skills and learn how to work with others. I would like to see TYA get its own theater!

4. If someone wanted to make a painting for you, what would you want them to paint?

I would want something that the artist enjoyed creating, no matter what style. It could be abstract, cartoony, or whatever they felt best. I wouldn’t want to tell them what to design because I wouldn’t want something that they reluctantly slaved over: I don’t want them to feel as if they are being forced to do it, because I know from school what it’s like to have to make something I don’t really want to make. I would want it to come from the heart.

5. Do you have anything in mind for your next artwork?

I am pretty busy right now acting in Beauty and The Beast: I get to be Belle's dad, the goofy , kind inventor. That's a lot of fun. And I'm busy working on projects for school (Mosaic Middle School) and for Future Cities Club. I am excited about a competition we are trying for in Milwaukee: We get to design a city with Sim City 4, build a model of it, and present it to judges from across the state. The club picked my Sim City design for the main competition, and my teammates and I are working on the rest of the material together. I will be drawing the brochures and posters for that.  I also still like to draw space stuff, cities, and my dogs any chance I get (I doodle a lot in class, but my teachers are really nice and don't mind.)  I have been drawing stuff for the book my mom and I wrote, but I am stopping that for a little while to draw some presents for some special people.

Posted in: Discover & Learn   

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Recent Comments

Nikki Kornetzke said…

This is truly a wonderful and inspirational story.  Thank you Kade for showing us the importance of determination and perseverance!  You are an amazing young man!!

Randy said…

“I said I would keep it forever, and forever means forever.”
I tried not to choke up when I read that.

It’s a great story about what a cool and talented kid Kade is.
It’s a great story about the caring and dedication of a public school employee.
And I love Kade’s artwork, especially that cityscape at the top of the article.  Amazing!

Joy said…

AMAZING!! This is such a wonderful story for us to read about but more importantly for Kade to experience and draw from (no pun intended) this kind of encouragement is a life changing event.  Real talent is not always obvious to others but to those who care to spend the time to develop it comes awe inspiring stories such as this.  Thank you for sharing.

Jennifer Flatt said…

Wow.  It was a struggle to finish the online article because the tears in my eyes got in the way, but I’m glad I managed!  Congratulations to Kade on his fabulous artwork, his amazing persistence, and his belief in himself.  Kudos to Steve—a credit to his profession!

Jim said…

I am privileged to know Kade (and his parents).  He is one of the kindest and most loving kids I have ever met - and besides being a talented young artist, he’s smart as a whip and funny. Reading this article made me even more proud to know him.  And, my partner and I are fortunate to be the owners of one of his works of art which graces our home.  Finally, great thanks goes to Steve Hodges for his great teaching.  As an educator myself, it’s wonderful to see someone who lives and practices each day such a high standard of pedagogy and love for his students.

Mike Heck said…

TYA was a safe haven for me for many years when I was growing up. It helped me to make many lifelong friends and showed me that I was indeed an individual with many good skills and talents. TYA helped a very nervous and frightened child and helped him become a strong and empowered adult.


This a beautiful example of how important a great teacher can unlock a universe for a wonderful student.  Congratulations Kade and Steve for allowing more art and compassion into this world…and for me, “The Alien,” rocks!

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