The name of the project is "Love in Motion." It began when Rausa went to Joplin and viewed the tornadic destruction.
"My brother-in-law had a sign from the hospital land in their yard," said Audra. "It was just a broken piece with the picture of a cross and the word Mercy. It is now hanging in their home. They had minimal damage but on either side of their home, everything was gone."
After seeing all of the damage in Joplin, Rausa went home and was sitting at the computer doing some posting when she came across a news release on a rally that happened in Springfield. People had come together to protest helping Joplin.
"The more I read about the rally, the more disgusted I got and my heart was full of so much love for the people in Joplin that I couldn't understand how anyone could say that these people deserved this," said Rausa. "It moved me to create a religious-based drawing.
"The drawing is of Jesus with a dove on his head. It is my intent to bring peace of mind, spiritual enlightenment and the fact that it is never cool to wish bad on folks," Audra continued. "I coupled it with other religious icons. I just want people to look into their hearts and understand the efforts that I am doing and give something beautiful for people to embrace."
She continued to explain that the point of the drawing was to put religious differences aside and to come together with an understanding that love is the only way.
"Hate needs to be cast aside and we need to come together in the community to help these folks," said Audra. "They are real people and they are suffering."
Rausa followed with another project, drawing portraits of tornado victims as family keepsakes. The free project originated for the survivors of the Joplin tornado but is not limited to that any longer. It quickly spread to the survivors of another tornado.
"It is no longer limited, it goes far beyond to anyone who contacts me and grieves," said Audra. "Anyone who contacts me and is grieving, I have offered this to."
Rausa has been drawing her entire life. She recalled that in high school she made a pretty good living painting on peacock feathers, emu eggs and cow skulls. She did western drawings, Indian themes and also did art on the Trail of Tears. She attended school at Verona and graduated valedictorian. She painted the murals in the Verona gymnasium.
"I am grateful that I can use my talent in this way," said Rausa. "I am not making money from this project but the reward is how it touches my heart and how it has touched people makes it all worth while."
She explained that the art pieces are drawings, not sketches. Sketches have less detail. The drawings are complete and sealed so there will be no smearing, and done on quality acid-free paper.
"I get to know each family before I draw," said Audra. "I believe it reflects in every piece that I do. The first thing I say when people reach out to me is 'Tell me your story.' Sometimes it is really hard for folks, but after they open up, I will just be bombarded with their notes.
"I think what is valuable for them is that it allows them an avenue to express their grief and their joy. Everything that is in their hearts that is so hard to talk about and the stories are in turn direct fuel for my creative inspiration."
Audra continued to explain about Christopher Lucas, the Pizza Hut manager who was killed in the Joplin tornado holding the cooler door to protect those who had taken refuge inside. Originally the drawing would have been done as a black and white picture. She spent hours and days looking through family photos and talking to the family. It came down to how best to honor Lucas and what he loved to do in life. He loved to fish, so Audra drew him with a fish.
"The stories matter," said Audra, "and they change the art. I can't think of a better way to honor him."
Audra believes that every moment in her life prepared her for this project. She is writing a book describing her journey.
"Every suffering and heartache that I have gone through," said Audra, "had to happen so I could understand their suffering and heartache. I draw from the inside out. When you get the story of how this person lived and died, it brings their spirit to light instead of just an image."
Since Audra has begun this project, she has become a part of the Mid-America Arts Alliance, the team that will design and create a historical mural for Joplin. Audra gives free services for grief therapy to the Life Preservers Global Grief Support and has been invited to join the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition. She is volunteering her services locally to the ARC of the Ozarks to teach an art class.
The ARC class is in need of art supplies. Those wishing to donate art supplies can take them to the local ARC office located on Dairy Street or call Audra at 417-772-7367.
The initial drawing that Audra did as a tribute for Joplin was donated to the Artists4Joplin silent auction to be held on Aug. 5. She has also donated two collections of her art with all profits to be donated to Ozark Food Harvest and to be used to help fund the Love in Motion project. The link for more information, is, www.-artists4joplin.com. To read more on the Love in Motion project on facebook, accesswww.facebook.com/audra.rausa.