© 2019 One Heart One Soul | Chicago

 

MTrejo@1Heart1Soul.org 

Voices Within

The newest platform created as a way to invite you, the reader, into our sessions without physically being there. May you take a moment to paint a picture with these words and see the faces of hope, laughter, joy, hurt, sadness and beautiful souls that we have the honor to experience in each session.

 

Chapter 1.

Opening Remarks

 

            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.




Written by, Ms. Jadae
One Heart One Soul intern |
Pre-Law, double major in Political Science and Creative Writing

 

Chapter 2.

Familiar Faces.

 

 

            This week, we had our second set of sessions for our art program. We received some very needed- and very appreciated- donations that helped this week stay afloat. Going into these sessions, I wasn`t sure if many people would show up or if the same people would come back from Week 1. I did have hope that someone would show up at each location, because art has the power to bring people out of the shadows no matter the occasion. Thankfully, some familiar and new faces joined us for Week 2 and made these sessions a community bonding experience for all who attended.

 

            At our second session at the Belfort House, our young novelist joined us, and a few new artists who missed our first session came to create as well. We had a free painting day; our lovely OHOS founder Mireya gave the young writers a task that allowed for them to use colors to interpret their own lives. She wanted them to choose three colors: one to symbolize the previous day, one to symbolize the current day, and one for the next day. The artists could put these three colors together in any way that reflected who they are and what the colors they chose represented. This exercise lead to the creation of turtles and the sea, among other creations. Through a lot of laughter and comradery, Belfort`s artists took a deep concept and created work that showed us who they are and the hope they have for their future.

 

            The Covenant House brought in a large crowd of eager and diverse creatives. About half of our previous participants came through along with many others who were interested in the program. We had our speaker, Qyjon Clark, bring the crowd together and share his story. This motivated and inspired the young artists; their feelings towards the speech drove them to create art with us. Their excitement created an aura that made the environment feel very communal and safe for everyone present. Some people painted; others decided to draw; a few wrote poetry or rap lyrics. So many different artistic outlets were used during this session. This space really captured the versatility of art and of people.

 

            Week 2 at La Casa Norte, on the other hand, was a sibling affair. A brother-sister duo from last season came to create with us on Monday. As we waited for our talented instructor to commute to our location, we decided to do some work on our own. Our returning siblings decided that they wanted to create as much as they could so that they could have plenty of work for our upcoming exhibit in the fall. The pressure was on to create meaningful art; our participants worked to make something that they could be proud of, Andrew (our very talented teacher) found it worthwhile to recreate his previous work in a novel way, Mireya got to work on basic white envelopes that will be used one day, and I was pushed to finish writing my book after painting a life-sized version of the title page (I`ll have the book done eventually!). In the end, we all worked on something that was beneficial for us.

 

            It was satisfying seeing the turnout for Week 2. I`m ecstatic to see more people join us in upcoming sessions. I also hope that everyone who has joined us during weeks 1 and 2 come back and produce art that they are proud of and want to display for our exhibit. Week 2 solidified the impact of our art program; it goes to show how well art can bring about community in ways that other outlets can`t produce.

            
 

 

 

Written by, Ms. Jadae
One Heart One Soul intern |
Pre-Law, double major in Political Science and Creative Writing

 

Chapter 3.

The Power of Words

 

            When most people think of art, they don`t immediately think of writing being included under this umbrella. But writing is verbalized art. Our sessions this week involved writing as an artistic outlet for the youth participants. It`s important to allow for everyone to try different forms of art in our sessions; not everyone paints or draws, and the ability to create in multiple different ways expands their creativity. We also don`t want to exhaust our visual art supplies before the program is over.

           

            Saturday`s session at Belfort House was the first time we focused on writing during our program. I had to prepare for this session; Saturday was the first time that I was tasked to run a session. I hoped that a decent number of residents would join in and receive my plan well. Thankfully, this session went very well. A handful of people joined the session and wrote powerful pieces from the exercise I had them participate in. I had everyone take 30 seconds to write down as many words as they can come up with. Then I had them choose 4 words from that list to use for their writing. The last thing that I did was give them a list of 6 words to also include in their writing: life, bold, tomorrow, courage, might, and growth. All 10 words had to be used at least once, and there wasn`t a specific topic or form of writing that they had to focus on. They took the challenge, and took 15 minutes to write a piece to share with the group. One participant was excited with the piece that he wrote, and he will be working on it to share with us during the next session. Another participant used the exercise to work on a chapter for her novel, and she felt that the task was helpful for her writing. I`m glad that I could give them a starting place to help their writing, and I hope that they will continue to write on their own as well.

 

            Sunday`s session at Covenant House was run by Tamara, a journalist, singer, and creator of a radio station. Tamara`s talk with the youth was inspirational; she compared people to seeds, as we are all useful and have a purpose. She also showed how a diamond, which is very valuable, starts out in a different state and takes years to form into its final stage. She used that to explain how we all take time to mold and change, but we still have value. Her speech lightened the spirits in the room, and it allowed for participants to want to write, draw, or freestyle raps in order to perfect and enjoy their craft. Networking also occurred during this session; one young lady wants to publish a book she wrote, and Tamara was able to share a publishing connection that she had with the determined writer. This is one major benefit of our program; we can connect people of different worlds together and help make goals happen.

 

            Monday`s session at La Casa Norte was cut short due to the lack of youth participants. We learned that one of our previous participants cannot return due to being targeted on the streets. This is important information to share to those who are unaware of the issues that homeless and at-risk youth face every day. The safety of these young people is threatened by many things, including street violence. We must help them in any way that we can, whether it`s by providing them shelter or food, or giving them an outlet to express themselves. This is why our art program is important; we not only give the youth a safe space to be themselves, but we also let people know about what they face and how to help them.

            
 

Written by, Ms. Jadae
One Heart One Soul intern |
Pre-Law, double major in Political Science and Creative Writing

 

Chapter 3.

The Power of Words

 

            When most people think of art, they don`t immediately think of writing being included under this umbrella. But writing is verbalized art. Our sessions this week involved writing as an artistic outlet for the youth participants. It`s important to allow for everyone to try different forms of art in our sessions; not everyone paints or draws, and the ability to create in multiple different ways expands their creativity. We also don`t want to exhaust our visual art supplies before the program is over.

           

            Saturday`s session at Belfort House was the first time we focused on writing during our program. I had to prepare for this session; Saturday was the first time that I was tasked to run a session. I hoped that a decent number of residents would join in and receive my plan well. Thankfully, this session went very well. A handful of people joined the session and wrote powerful pieces from the exercise I had them participate in. I had everyone take 30 seconds to write down as many words as they can come up with. Then I had them choose 4 words from that list to use for their writing. The last thing that I did was give them a list of 6 words to also include in their writing: life, bold, tomorrow, courage, might, and growth. All 10 words had to be used at least once, and there wasn`t a specific topic or form of writing that they had to focus on. They took the challenge, and took 15 minutes to write a piece to share with the group. One participant was excited with the piece that he wrote, and he will be working on it to share with us during the next session. Another participant used the exercise to work on a chapter for her novel, and she felt that the task was helpful for her writing. I`m glad that I could give them a starting place to help their writing, and I hope that they will continue to write on their own as well.

 

            Sunday`s session at Covenant House was run by Tamara, a journalist, singer, and creator of a radio station. Tamara`s talk with the youth was inspirational; she compared people to seeds, as we are all useful and have a purpose. She also showed how a diamond, which is very valuable, starts out in a different state and takes years to form into its final stage. She used that to explain how we all take time to mold and change, but we still have value. Her speech lightened the spirits in the room, and it allowed for participants to want to write, draw, or freestyle raps in order to perfect and enjoy their craft. Networking also occurred during this session; one young lady wants to publish a book she wrote, and Tamara was able to share a publishing connection that she had with the determined writer. This is one major benefit of our program; we can connect people of different worlds together and help make goals happen.

 

            Monday`s session at La Casa Norte was cut short due to the lack of youth participants. We learned that one of our previous participants cannot return due to being targeted on the streets. This is important information to share to those who are unaware of the issues that homeless and at-risk youth face every day. The safety of these young people is threatened by many things, including street violence. We must help them in any way that we can, whether it`s by providing them shelter or food, or giving them an outlet to express themselves. This is why our art program is important; we not only give the youth a safe space to be themselves, but we also let people know about what they face and how to help them.

            
 

Written by, Ms. Jadae
One Heart One Soul intern |
Pre-Law, double major in Political Science and Creative Writing

 

Chapter 4.

Not a Goodbye

            This week, we closed out the first part of our 2018 program. We emphasized that these final sessions were not crunch time; the youth can continue creating pieces when we are not there. However, we had to emphasize that they should put focus on creating art for our September exhibit. We want to show the public what came out of our art program, which is why we leave some of our donated supplies at the centers for them. It allows for them to create as much as they want, and it also lets them know that they have our support.

 

            Saturday`s session at Belfort House brought back our usual faces and a new face with new talent. The creativity flowed throughout the session; there wasn`t a specific exercise or task to do other than produce pieces that the artist would be proud of. Charcoals pencils, acrylic paint, and canvas spread across the tables as we worked during the session. An observation that I made during this session and throughout the program is that these young people form a community whenever they sit down with us. They bounce ideas off each other, share their knowledge of different art forms, and they laugh about any topic they bring up for discussion. These sessions are used to bond with each other, and I`m glad that we provided this outlet for them.

 

            The community at Covenant House is a little different. This group is more writing-based. We decided to merge two exercises together for this Sunday group so they could create multiple pieces and expand their abilities. I first had the group complete the writing exercise that I introduced at the Belfort House during session 3. This lead to short writing pieces, but that was not a problem for the second part of the session. After sharing their writings, the next step was to translate what they wrote into visual art. This group was more enthusiastic to paint, and they created great pieces that matched their writing. At first, they did not respond too well to the beginning of the session; afterwards, they were glad that they were involved in creating art. I could tell by their responses to their paintings that they did not dislike the exercise as much as they did initially. I`m glad that they left their comfort zone to work with us.

 

            Monday`s session at [the Logan Square site] was exciting for our instructor Andrew. He ran a mini session with a seven-year-old girl who was curious and needed to express herself alongside us. While a returning participant worked on a painting she started before we came in, Andrew worked with the little girl and helped her work past her insecurities with art. She felt that she wasn`t good at painting, but he patiently helped her create art that she was excited to share with her mom at the end. As I worked on my final painting of Week 4, I couldn`t help but notice how Andrew managed to not only helped the girl push past her comfort zone, but he also understood her enough to help her express herself through art. She didn`t think that she was good at it, but he helped her create pieces that she was proud of. Through this encounter, I learned how to be more patient so that I could help someone in the future work through their self-doubt. I think that was a beneficial way to close out the 4-week program.

 

            Although the main sessions have concluded, this was not a goodbye to any of the youth who came to work with us. Hopefully, we will be invited back to continue working with them and create more art together. We will be seeing these faces again; the opportunity to share their work in September is possible for everyone we met this summer. I learned a lot from this art program, and I am glad that I also got to contribute to the lives of the youth in Chicago. This is not a goodbye; this is only a simple, “until next time.

 

 

Written by, Ms. Jadae
One Heart One Soul intern |
Pre-Law, double major in Political Science and Creative Writing