Meet Haley: Access’ Superhero Artist

Janine Shapiro, CCC-SLP, BCBA

Haley Babcock creates all of the beautiful and bright art that adorns the walls at Access Behavior Analysis.

She combines her lifelong passion for painting with her experience working with children to bring the artwork to life. Her words below speak to what makes Haley special and why she represents our core belief that human talent is what truly makes a difference in an ABA clinic.

“I think it’s important for children to have a vibrant visual world around them. We can emote and learn through visual stimulation and creation well before we ever develop language.”

—Haley Babcock

Growing Up an Artist

Haley, 28, grew up in a small town in northern Indiana. “I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember,” she says. “I was always trying to follow in the footsteps of my mom and older sister.”

Her mom loved crafts and refinished old furniture for the family’s antique business, while her sister, who is now a successful graphic designer in Chicago, was always drawing and painting. “I think without these strong female influences in my life, I may not have approached art as a career.”

Working with Kids

Currently, Haley is the studio education manager of the children’s, family and teen art programs at the Des Moines Art Center, a not-for-profit art museum and school in Iowa. She graduated from Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI with two bachelor’s degrees, in Art Education and Fine Art, a minor in Art History, and a certification in Museum Studies.

Haley first gained experience working with kids when she landed an internship at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in the Family Programs department. After graduation Haley hired on as a part-time Gallery Facilitator at TCM, where she often worked with children 5 and under with their families in the preschool exhibit. “I learned a lot about early childhood development,” Haley says.

Beginning of a Beautiful Thing

During that time, Haley embarked on a second job that would lead to many new opportunities.

Janine Shapiro, a Clinical Director at Access Behavior Analysis, hired the hard-working young professional to help out after having her first child, Gavin. Janine quickly discovered Haley’s true talent. “She painted the most beautiful set of animal paintings for my son’s nursery,” Janine says. “I told her at the time that if I ever had my own clinic, I wanted her to do the artwork for it.”

Haley has also blessed a few friends’ baby nurseries with customized paintings, but she had never taken on a professional-level painting job until Janine contacted her in November 2015.

Access Commissions Go Wild

Shortly after Access Behavior Analysis started, Janine reached out to Haley to take on a “few” paintings for the clinic. She painted the Candyland room and Nature Room in late 2015. Thrilled with the work, Janine commissioned Haley to paint the nearly 100 wooden cut-out shapes — from dinosaurs and super heroes to circus animals, puzzle pieces, letters and numbers — found throughout the clinic as well as the many Access logos. In all, Haley estimates she’s spent more than 250 hours on the project.

“She takes a loosely shaped piece of wood and brings life to it,” Janine says. “We love how she uses shading, which makes even simple figures look special.”   

Creative Challenges

“They gave me creative freedom to pick the color palette and let me choose the style in which the paintings were done,” Haley says of the project, which presented challenges aside from the time commitment while also working at the Art Center full time. For one, she had to use an enamel interior high-gloss paint so the cut-outs can be easily moved and cleaned, a medium she rarely uses. “It was definitely a learning process,” Haley says. “I hadn’t painted many superheroes or dinosaurs before, but I’m well-learned now!”

Making a Difference

Haley says it’s exciting and fulfilling to know there’s a building covered with her artwork that countless children can see, touch and be inspired by while they learn and grow. “I’d like to think if a child at the Access center is scared or frustrated, and their speech isn’t fully formed to communicate their feelings, maybe the friendly elephant on the wall will comfort them or the strong Spiderman will help them feel brave,” she says.

It’s Like Christmas

Since Haley lives out of state, dozens of Access cut-outs clutter her small apartment until she can deliver them to Indiana. She posts pictures of newly finished cut-outs on her Facebook page so Janine can get a sneak peek.  “When she’s in the middle of a commission for us, our pieces take over her living space for long stretches of time,” Janine says. “I get so excited when she posts a completed piece, because I know soon that elephant, dinosaur, superhero or flower will greet me each day at work!”

Over Labor Day weekend, Haley drove back to Indiana to personally hang the rest of the Access decorations, delivering the joys of the holidays early for Janine and the Access staff: “On drop-off days, it’s like Christmas for us!”


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