The evening the kids have been preparing for had finally arrived. It was time for the ‘Passion for Youth’ art show at Dominion Chalmers. There was sufficient space for each artist to choose five pieces of their work to show, and it was a challenge for some to decide. Hustle, bustle, the staging of sofas and tables from the art room on the second floor, the preparation of the interactive art table where guests could be creative, coffee, tea and snacks set near the entrance all combined to accelerate the excitement and anticipation.
In the end, all was readied. The stage was set, the players were ready, last minute adjustments to the easels were complete, the live entertainment arrived ( Max and August), and the mood was set.
Guests enjoyed the ambiance, the artists and the art work. Ahh, the art work. For some of our guests, the time had finally come when the art work that was ‘for display only’ at our auction, was finally available for bidding. There were pieces of art work that captured hours and hours of devotion, had become a labour of love, and were now revealed to the public.
But there was something here far greater than what initially captured the senses. There was a clear demonstration of a Master Artist at work with figures of moving clay.
The real demonstration of art was that of the artists themselves.
Initially, many of these youth never had any idea that they could create anything beautiful at all. The images of childhood that are so familiar to us were either non-existent or so overshadowed with such painful memories that it would have been better not to have had them at all. Years of repeated abuse served to reinforce their belief and image they would never amount to anything. They were told as young children that they were losers, worthless and discarded and treated as less than animals. They had eaten from the garbage bins, slept in the bins or wherever they could, experienced cold and discomfort that are beyond description. They were survivors, despite it all.
Tonight was different. People they didn’t even know told them over and over again, that they had created something beautiful. So beautiful in fact that they would like to buy the items and remember the artists. The youth were the ones encouraging the younger guests and showing them how to hold a paint brush, how to mix the colors, how to ‘let themselves go’ and be creative. Photos were taken. The young artists were congratulated for work well done, praised for their choices of color or texture, and one small bit at a time, I believe some changes began to occur.
Maybe the voices of the past were wrong. Maybe I’m not useless, after all, someone likes what I have created. Maybe there is something good about me. Maybe this is not the end. Maybe, just maybe, I can do something good. Maybe there is something good about me.
That was the real exhibition of art. It wasn’t the paint on the canvas, or the music that filled the air: it was living, breathing, young people experiencing hope and a promise for the future. And, maybe, just maybe, that might be enough to change a life.