Homeless people are artists too

by Staci

NEOCH VISTA Members Damon Taylor and Staci Santa have joined together with Americorps Member Melanie Garrett, Black Box Gallery, and many other organizations, businesses, and individuals to provide art workshops for the homeless throughout the Winter season. Workshops were held at the Black Box Saturdays, January 25, February 22, and March 22, 1997 from 10AM to 2:00 PM each month. Boxed lunches compliments of West Side Catholic Shelter, transportation, childcare, and were provided for each participant.

With an average of 40 homeless or severely low-income participants at every workshop and about half that many volunteers including art students to assist with technical issues, it was easy to see how closely the community pulled together and worked persistently to make these events happen. With this local effort to collaborate, the workshop days ran incredibly well. Each workshop member received personal attention from graduate students studying art and/or art therapy. Other volunteers were on hand to provide day care, serve lunch, offer advice, help with supplies, set up and clean up the gallery space, and fulfill any various tasks required of the day.

Homeless participants were encouraged but not limited to expressing their depiction of life on the streets, their goals, their motivations, or other aspects of the streets that others might not think of exploring. Other participants chose to test their art skills, examine the various donated art supplies, or make artwork for a friend or family member.

Charcoal, acrylic paints, clay, molds, storybooks, and other donated supplies were available for use. If so inclined, participants are welcome to submit their work to the second annual homeless multi-media art show, Homeless Still: A Second View of the Streets, this summer.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published March 1997-April 1997 Issue 20