Written by Rachel Nash, artist and art therapist
Art — why make art on the streets with homeless people? Don’t people who are homeless have much bigger needs, like shelter, food, and clothes? Why make art?
Last month I had the privilege to present in Miami at the American Art Therapy Association about this very question. I presented alongside two art therapists out of Fort Worth who are making art with a similar group of people on the other side of the trinity. Our presentation was titled, “When neighbors are homeless or under-resourced, art therapy promotes dignity and resilience.”
With The Human Impact, we believe that art does exactly that — it promotes dignity and resilience. This is why we have Street Art. Street Art happens every Spring and Fall. We go out once a week, some days we bring tables and chairs, some days we walk around and talk to people, and some days we have a project that gives people who are often unheard, a voice.
When I reflect back on why I make art with this group of people, people who are waiting in line for the shelter, people who are hungry, people who have so many needs—I am reminded that making art pulls people out of survival mode and into a place where they can remember who they are. People are stuck in a place in their brain where all they can do or think about is surviving. When we make art together, even if it is something simple, people are drawn into their thinking brain. They can begin to think creatively about what their life could look like off the streets, they begin to hope.
New conversations happen when we are making art that would not normally happen if we were just talking. People feel comfortable and a space is created and opened up for them to share, to be vulnerable, and even to be challenged.
And let us not forget, making art is fun. And when people are having fun they can learn.
Our next Street Art session will be held in the Spring of 2019. Stay tuned for details or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.