If you lost everything, what would you need to do to rebuild your life?
During the month of November, artists who are experiencing homelessness will display their work in an art show at The Paseo Plunge to coincide with a month-long supply drive for the Oklahoma Homeless Alliance. The exhibit is free and open to the public with an opening reception being held during Paseo’s first Friday art walk.
The featured artists participate in “Fresh stART,” a program of the Homeless Alliance and City Care designed to provide people experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City with a supportive environment for creating art.
In addition to providing a potential source of income, open studio art programs enable people experiencing homelessness to express themselves creatively, manage emotional issues, develop social skills through positive interaction with a peer group, and develop confidence and skills transferable to employment.
“I like to make art,” said Lee, a Fresh stART artist. “It takes my mind off everything else going on in my life. It is nice and peaceful here.”
Lee took an art class with her mom in high school and realized that she loved to paint. After getting married and having children she didn't paint for some time until she experienced homelessness. She found her way to the Homeless Alliance’s Day Shelter where she began attending the Fresh stART studio and has been painting ever since.
Fresh stART artwork covers a variety of mediums including mixed media, collage, water color, acrylic and colored pencil.
“Art allows people to temporarily escape their difficult situations and provides an opportunity to interact with peers in a positive environment,” said Dan Straughan, executive director at the Homeless Alliance. “And when an artist sells something that they created, it really helps build their confidence knowing that someone else values their work.”
Fresh stART hosts studio time twice per week at the Homeless Alliance’s Day Shelter located on the WestTown Homeless Resource Campus and relies on the community to donate art supplies and funding to operate the program.
For the supply drive, drop off spots at retailers across the Paseo will be accepting only new items from this list: cleaning supplies, pots and pans, bath towels, plastic plates and bowls, silverware, cooking utensils, can openers, trash cans and bags, coffeemakers, crockpots, microwaves, shower curtains and hooks, laundry bags and baskets, rag mops and buckets. Donations will be rewarded with a coupon for discounts and other items at participating retailers.
The Paseo Plunge is located at 3010 Paseo in Oklahoma City and open Tuesday through Sunday. Originally built as a public swimming pool in the 1930s, The Paseo Plunge is currently being transformed into a multi-purpose art space supporting a wide array of creative disciplines. More information about the gallery and hours of operation can be found at www.PaseoPlunge.com.
The Homeless Alliance, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, works to end long-term homelessness in Oklahoma City by building the capacity of the community through collaboration with other agencies, identifying and filling gaps in homeless service, bringing nationally-recognized best practices to the community, and working to build a system that is more efficient, rationale and caring. The Homeless Alliance operates several housing programs for families with children, coordinates a community effort to house veterans and people who are chronically homeless and publishes The Curbside Chronicle. The Homeless Alliance owns and operates the Westtown Homeless Resource Campus which includes a Resource Center with offices for multiple nonprofit and government agencies, a Day Shelter that serves an average of 300 people each day and a housing complex. For more information about how to help, visit www.HomelessAlliance.org.
Editor’s note: Personal stories and images will help our broader community better understand the experience of homelessness. If you would like to visit a class or be connected with artists in the program or a representative of the Homeless Alliance, contact Kinsey Crocker at the Homeless Alliance (405) 415-8439 or (580) 402-5269.