Building Right Relationship Through Art

By: Luke Drotar

     From an origami tutorial one day to art reclamation by people experiencing homelessness the next, you’d be hard-pressed to find a gallery or studio that allows for more variety in its art & artists than the Transformational Art Center.  The group uses wood & other items from nature, as well as recycled materials from places like ZeroLandfill Cleveland, to explore how they can transform discarded art media into works of beauty.

      Based in the old St. Peter’s Room of the Bishop Cosgrove Center (1736 Superior Ave), the Transformational Art Center is a “community which reflects the movement of the Spirit in the building of relationship through artistic expression,” write Program Coordinators Pam Meyers & Mike Waters.  “Our primary purpose is the transformation of our relationship with God, ourselves & each other as we share our spiritual journey.”

     Visiting makes it clear that the Center is indeed out to build a fellowship in art.  What’s more poignant is that they are succeeding, & without using any wine.  Their membership has grown from a core membership of the few into a free-flowing vibrancy that can include dozens of participants during the days they work alongside the Cosgrove lunch crowd.

     Artists and non-artists of all levels and types of talent, interest, and style work side-by-side in light-hearted conversation.  A Rhythm & Blues CD croons smoothly from a boombox across the room and applies to their working environment a light coating of groove.  The large conference size-room in which they work is decorated throughout with collages and designs both colorful and symbolic, with canvas paintings that appear curiously Jackson Pollock, with mixed-media installations that bend and stretch your mind as you perambulate.

     The program’s aim is high-reward: the total transformation of oneself.  I’ve been lucky to know a couple members for a few years, during the breadth of their participation.  I can testify that some transformations of the mind can be seen with one’s eyes.

      The Transformational Art Center elaborates their values as such: “Unconditional Love (loving each other just as we are), Compassion (‘suffering with’ – being present with each other in our suffering), Divine Friendship (seeing the Presence of God in all persons & all of creation), Companionship (a mutual relationship which holds its grounding in Christ), & Forgiveness (accepting each other in our brokenness & understanding the pain & woundedness behind every offense).”

    The Transformational Art Center’s work is the kind that you can feel not only good about supporting.  Besides it not being done for profit, the program is an unpretentious one that won’t cost you a lot of time or money to be a hero for.  If you purchase a piece from their wide-ranging & affordable collection, all proceeds from its sale will go toward the purchase of more art supplies.  Support can be as simple as that.

     Although, as Program Coordinator Pam Meyers says, “It’s not about art, it’s about relationship.”  If the efforts of the Transformational Center resonate in your heart & mind, then join them; they love to see their community grow.  You may call Program Coordinators Pam Meyers & Mike Waters at (216) 407-3185 & (216) 376-3942 to find a way to get connected.

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and The Street Chronicle published Sept. 2011 Cleveland, Ohio