OKLAHOMA CITY – On June 22, artists who are experiencing homelessness will display their work in an art show in the lobby of the Homeless Alliance Resource Center, 1124 NW 4th Street in Oklahoma City. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
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.
City Care serves the community by feeding the homeless, providing affordable housing for low income individuals, and furnishing tutors and mentors to work with at risk, inner city children. Each day, its Day Shelter serves approximately 300 people.
The Day Shelter offers a respite where homeless patrons can go for a hot breakfast and lunch. In addition to art therapy, the shelter provides onsite resources such as computer clinics, job training and basic medical care.
Research shows that there are many benefits that result from open studio art programs. It helps develop self confidence and skills that can be used in daily life and in employment opportunities. In addition to providing the artists with a potential source of income, art therapy programs allow them to have a creative outlet, help to manage emotional issues, to develop social skills while interacting with others in a positive environment.
“You see people who don’t normally communicate with others talking in class about art, and sharing techniques with one another,” said Kim Woods, deputy director at the Homeless Alliance. “Art allows people to temporarily escape their difficult situations and provides an opportunity to interact with peers in a positive environment. It really helps build people’s confidence.”
The artwork on display will cover a variety of mediums including mixed media, collage, water color, acrylic and colored pencil.
Participating fresh stART artists receive 80 percent of the proceeds from the sale of their artwork, and the remaining 20 percent is retained by the studio to offset costs of matting the finished pieces.
The fresh stART program provides studio time twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, at the Day Shelter located on the WestTown Homeless Resource Campus. Art supplies for the program are donated by community members.
“Fresh Start helps me with a multitude of problems – anxiety, depression, insomnia,” said Rocky, a fresh stART artist. “It’s helping people deal with things I deal with too. It’s helping people find an outlet and taking them in the right direction. We create a lot of friends in the program.”
The fresh stART program is in need of supplies such as canvases, acrylic paint, mat board watercolor paper, paper towels, and paper plates, used for mixing paint. These items can be dropped off at the Homeless Alliance, Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Homeless Alliance, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization, helps coordinate and improve services for the homeless population of Oklahoma City. For more information about how to help, call the Homeless Alliance at 405-415-8410 or visit homelessalliance.org.