A unique exhibit is opening at the Phoenix Art Museum. The new works, entitled “To Be Me,” are all created by children that have endured the foster system and often suffered abuse.
The exhibit takes visitors through the children’s stories as they view their art.
“To Be Me” is a result of a collaboration between the Phoenix Art Museum, the Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, and teaching artist Shelly Love. In the program leading up to the exhibit, young girls living in foster care spent six weeks learning about art, exploring their own creativity, and assembling portraits.
The uniqueness of each girl can be seen in the various approaches to individual portraits– some have small found items such as wooden beads and watches. Others include ribbons, and gauze. One even includes magazine photos.
Some girls have voiced their appreciation for the process; Autumn says her involvement is helping her cope with real life problems, “[It’s] helping us cope, and helping us be creative… and having that time to calm down and have fun. Art also helps us tell our stories the way that some people don’t know how to.” Sarah Ann says, “I learned to respect myself and my art. I just like painting; it helps me relieve stress.”
The museum’s education director, Kaela Saenz Oriti, says the experience was important for everyone involved, including herself. “It’s been the purpose of art since the beginning of art, to share experiences and to tell stories and to… mark this history and time,” Oriti stated.
You can see “To Be Me” at the Wolfsickel Education Center until October 15.