Painting a Brighter Future for Youth
22nd Voices & Visions Exhibit Marks Final Year at The Home's Landmark JP Facility
When The Home for Little Wanderers’ annual Voices & Visions Creative Writing and Art Exhibit in Jamaica Plain opens to the public this Thursday, it will be a bittersweet day. For 22 years, the display has given the community an opportunity to connect with the young artists at one of their favorite charities. After The Home’s recent announcement that it plans to sell its landmark Knight Children’s Center on South Huntington Avenue at the end of 2012, this year’s Voices & Visions exhibit will be the last at the facility before the search for a new site in 2013 begins.
Voices & Visions is the culmination of a year-long, innovative art project. The project teaches positive ways of self-expression and encourages children to share their many emotions using art, poems, and stories. Many of the youth who participate in the project have had devastating experiences with abuse and neglect, many struggle with behavioral issues and low self-esteem, and almost all are in emotional turmoil.
“When children have been through traumatic events, creative expression can be quite therapeutic,” explained Annah Jordan, art teacher at The Home’s Knight Children’s Center. “Learning how to use different mediums of art like clay, paper mâché and writing can be a valuable tool in the healing process for the children.”
Each year children play an active role in selecting a theme for the project. This year, through the theme of “Celebrating Heroes,” Brian Barresi, an art teacher at The Home’s Longview Farm campus in Walpole, says that the children provide poignant insight into how they interpret their concept of a hero. “Youth are encouraged to use their imagination to develop works for the exhibit.”
Teachers from The Home for Little Wanderers’ three special education schools, including Jordan and Barresi, have spent the past year encouraging youth to explore all different types of heroes — from comic-book characters with supernatural powers to famous figures whose actions have changed the world and “everyday” heroes who make the world a better place.
Hero hearts capturing each child’s feelings about personal heroes, a life-size comic book depicting adventurous made-up characters and pieces honoring 9/11 heroes and a local foster mother are just some of the creations that will be on display at the Voices & Visions Creative Writing and Art Exhibit on May 17 (4 – 7 p.m.) and May 18 (9 a.m. – 2 p.m.) at the Knight Children’s Center Gymnasium, 161 South Huntington Avenue, Jamaica Plain. The works will also be at The Home’s Voices & Visions fundraising gala on May 23 at the Seaport World Trade Center, 1 Seaport Lane, Boston.
It is a tradition for guests of Voices & Visions to leave comments in books provided alongside pieces of artwork. “The children value the feedback on their artwork and it helps to reinforce their efforts and enhance their self-esteem,” explained Gina Levine who works with budding artists at The Home’s Southeast Campus in Plymouth.
Voices & Visions has evolved over 22 years to become not only an exhibit highlighting the talents of youth throughout many of The Home’s programs, but also the agency’s signature fundraiser. According to The Home for Little Wanderers’ President and CEO Joan Wallace-Benjamin, “Staff at The Home recognize the benefits of art and that it plays an important role in a child’s development. Through the community’s support, many children have benefited from our art program and will continue to for years to come. The Voices & Visions project is helping us paint a brighter future for youth.”
About Voices & Visions