Sunday, February 27, 2011

A morning to celebrate

Our species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories. Mary C. Bateson
The road into homelessness is littered with broken dreams and promises and hearts and spirits. The road is long and winding, it's edges paved with hard rock places too cold to harbour the broken down soles of battered feet that have been walking the line between the haves and have nots looking for a place to lay down their burden and find succor.

And then, a sheltering space is found where broken hearts can mend. Where dreams can be born again and spirits lifted.

When I first started working at the shelter five years ago, I walked in with a belief in the power of the arts to restore human nature to its inherent beauty. I walked in with a desire to capture shattered dreams and begin the process of reclamation.

I was blessed. There was a group of citizens who believed like me that nurturing artistic endeavours will lead people to the core of who they are when given the opportunity to express themselves through painting, drawing, writing, performing, singing -- a host of creative endeavours that are limited only by the resources needed to create a space for them to flourish.

Five years ago, I started the Possibilities Project at the shelter through a donation from The Wild Rose United Church congregation here in Calgary. It began with a few canvases and an assortment of brushes and paints. It has grown into thousands of dollars of art sold, of theatrical performances acted out, words littering pages of journals, musical notes wafting through the air and chapbooks of poetry sharing the beauty of poet's souls.

It began with a few people gathering together once or twice a week to share their love of painting. It has grown into a studio space, a music room, a Monday night singing group, a Tuesday night play group, a Wednesday night spoken word gang, a Thursday night jam session... and so much more.

And today, it continues with the grand opening of The Wild Rose Gallery, a permanent art space for artists to display and sell their works. Housed at the Wild Rose United Church community room, the Wild Rose Gallery presents a juried selection of art works created in the studio at the shelter by the artists who come to share their talents and their spirits every day.

The Wild Rose Studio is a healing place where spirits are ignited through the act of creation to explore the possibilities of creating something new, something different, something that speaks to who they are, what moves them, inspires them to reach beyond the label 'homeless'.

The Wild Rose Gallery is a place where that work is showcased and the artists are provided an opportunity for their voices to be heard, to be seen, to be experienced by those who live beyond the walls of the shelter, those who may not understand what it means to be 'homeless' but who resonate with what it means to express oneself through the arts.

It is an exciting morning. A morning to give thanks. To be humbled and to be inspired by not just the artists of the studio but also by this group of caring souls who continue to support and nurture the artistic expression of the clients of the shelter.

It is a morning to dance in the light of possibility, to embrace the hope of renewal and to have faith in the brilliance of humankind shining in the hearts of those who have come out to celebrate with us this amazing and wonderful event.



JTS said...

What a beautiful story! It started my day with a wide smile and hope for humanity! You are so right that the basic essentials of food, clothing, and shelter are not enough. The human spirit has needs to, if we are to survive and thrive. The project you started has grown into a amazing gift not only to the individuals it serves, but also to the greater community. And nothing pleases me more than a church body that understands the true message of Love and caring. What a beautiful way to start the week, I know many blessings will come from this new gallery!Hugs to you for being such an amazing woman, with a heart of pure gold!

Maureen said...

Arts can do many things, including create community. Wild Rose has taken the "less" out a word that no longer has quite the same power to define those who participate in studio activities.

thelmaz said...

How wonderful. Congratulations on all the work you do to help people reclaim life.