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Johnson County man spreads awareness for disabilities through billboard art

Ryan Sikes
Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 18:26:45-05

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — During National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month this March, Kansas City-area artist Ryan Sikes saw his artwork turned into a digital billboard.

Sikes is part of the Johnson County Developmental Supports Emerging Artists program. The employment program provides artists with resources to create a career.

“It’s just like being like everybody else, but with its own hurdles,” Sikes said about his disability. “Different hurdles for everybody.”

Much of Sikes' artwork and pallets mirror his personality — loud and full of color.

“Bright colors are mostly my thing,” Sikes said. “Psychedelic colors, I go mostly for hippie vibes.”

Sikes is one of 16 artists in the program. Program specialist Kristen Devlin says each artist has "a unique voice."

Devlin, an artist in her own right, guides artists who are passionate about their work and sharing it with the community.

“It creates pathways for equal citizenship. When you sell your artwork, you are in the art world. You are in our community,” she said. “We felt that support, and it’s so important to be seen by your community.”

Sikes was once asked what his dream for his art was. He said he wanted to see his work on billboards.

In partnership with Lamar Advertising, his dream is now a reality from March 7-20 at these locations:

  • 50 Highway at 3rd Street in Lee’s Summit
  • Interstate 35 at Roe
  • Interstate 35 at Cambridge Circle

Sikes is currently working on a life-sized portrait painted in a mosaic style.

His art and/or other pieces from the emerging artists' program can be purchased here.