When I left the Indiana Green line station and walked down the street towards the Belfort House in Bronzeville, I didn’t know what to expect on my first day as an intern for One Heart One Soul. I was very excited; making art and sharing it with new people is always a worthwhile experience. Art allows for people of different backgrounds to come together to share their experiences and who they are on the inside despite their circumstances. That first day perfectly illustrated how art and people are a perfect match.
In the Belfort House, the youth were unaware of our program; however, that didn’t stop us from creating together. Erin Venable was the art leader for today, and she allowed for us to create whatever felt right to us. A couple of young adults joined us and shared who they are through their passions almost immediately. We had a future designer (who could also paint very well) and a future novelist (whose artistic skills also extended to visual art) in our midst. That’s how I saw them: artists. I refuse to define them by their circumstances, mainly because they deserve better than that. These young ladies were open enough to share themselves with us on Saturday, and I hope to see them again in the future sessions so we can continue to create together.
Sunday lead me to the Covenant House on the Near North Side. I expected to experience a different vibe with each house, and I wasn’t disappointed in the Covenant House. We had a few more participants this time and a lot more pieces created by the artists. Poetry made an appearance along with the paintings, and personal stories came to life. Kids became the driving factor of their work on Sunday, and many beautiful pieces were borne from the love of parents for their children. Small works of art grew, and all of us could feel the emotions exerted by each artist through their work. Creation mixed in with a lot of laughter and personal connections made this space very comfortable for all, and I could tell from the end results that need to share their stories will bring them back to create more work with us.
La Casa Norte in Logan Square was another very different atmosphere than the other locations. Andrew Sentamu led us and we created paintings full of feeling. Although we had only a couple of young artists join us, the day was still worthwhile. One participant wanted to continue working on a drawing he already started, and the other let us know that he wasn’t an artist, but still decided to paint with Andrew. A lot of laughter and teasing occurred throughout the session; the energy in the room made it hard not to crack a smile every once in a while. The artistry level from each person involved differed, but it didn`t prevent the creation of great art. Hopefully, it also pulled in the artists enough to have them want to join us every session.
Overall, this first session went well for the program and all who participated in it. It really showed how inclusive art in many forms can be, and connecting people from different walks of life is easier than one may believe. I enjoyed working with these young artists and seeing what they can make from a set of donated supplies and two hours of their time. I’m excited to see what else they can create that will lead up to September`s gallery showing. I also can’t wait to see how many other young people will join us and bring forth more ideas and stories that makes them more than their situation.