By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On August 10, artists who are experiencing homelessness will display their work at an art show at the Homeless Alliance, 1724 N.W. 4th Street. The free exhibit will take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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 such as Fresh Start 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 paint because it’s a way to make things beautiful,” said Phillip, a Fresh stART artist. “There is so much ugliness in the world, and sometimes you can just paint over it and make something good.”
The artwork covers 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.
“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 offers studio time twice a week at the Day Shelter at 1724 NW 4th Street, on the WestTown Homeless Resource Campus. Art supplies are donated by community members.
“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.”
In addition to art therapy, the shelter provides a respite where homeless patrons can go for a hot breakfast and lunch, along with onsite resources such as computer clinics, job training and basic medical care.
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 www.homelessalliance.org.