Monday, November 2, 2015

Art in the Community

LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Texile Artists), a group to which I belong, does a community art project every couple of years. This year, the art was created for use at The Family & Children's Place Child Advocacy Center in Louisville. We were asked to "create at least one piece of fiber or textile art that appeals to children of all ages as well as their families." We were told that "The appearance of the CAC can help facilitate children's and families' participation in the process, largely by helping to alleviate anxiety and instill confidence and comfort in the intervention system. It (the art) should communicate, through its design, decor and materials, that the CAC is a welcoming and child oriented place for all children and their non-offending family members."

I learned a lot at the opening reception of this art project. I was surprised by the number of children served by the center and was extremely impressed with the center itself and the staff that was present. I was touched by the heartwarming words of thanks from the staff and moved by the thought/care given to the location of each piece of art. “We are proud to work with LAFTA and absolutely thrilled to reveal these amazing art pieces created by these wonderfully talented women,” said Becky League, director of the child advocacy center. “Everything at the center is aimed at making the child feel safe and comfortable, so this art adds another important element to help put children and their families at ease.”

I wanted to share this project with you by showing you pictures of some of the art donated to the center. At the end of the post, I've also included a short interview with JT Henderson, Vice President of Resource Development at Family & Children's Place, to give you a bit more perspective about the center itself. He said, "The artwork donated by LAFTA is a real blessing to the children served at the CAC. Before, the walls in our center were barren. Now, they are festive and send a message of hope to children who have been traumatized."

The top picture is in the first hallway the children enter. The house (on the right) is knitted and VERY textural. It is hung at a low level so the children can touch the piece. The texture and colors of the bottom two pieces make them very attractive to the children. (The hallways are not real wide, so it was hard getting good pictures. The lighting isn't great either as you can tell.) My piece is this sleepy purple owl with a bluebird on the tree branch.

Some pieces were VERY colorful and joyful.

It was important, though, for some pieces to be calming--notice the peaceful subject and calm colors of the work below on the left. When I saw where this piece was located, I was surprised. It was "hidden away" in what looked like a closet to me. (picture on top right). I found out during the reception that the location of this piece was VERY important and it was purposefully placed. The "closet" is where the children have to change clothes; a piece was needed to calm them during this very stressful time.

The lively piecing and movement of the remaing two pieces in the picture below draw the children in.

The children are encouraged to touch the pieces. The hand stitching on the pieces below provides great texture.

I think the kids will really enjoy the optical illusion of the piece on the left (below). The texture of the piece on the top right is very soft. (Oh, that's me in the middle. Someone took a pic of me with my piece.) Some pieces were brightly colored and pieced; some pieces were painted and stitched. All providing great variety for the children.

Some of the works were placed in the Forensic Interview Rooms. Forensic interviewing is a first step in most child protective services (CPS) investigations, one in which a professional interviews a child to find out if he or she has been maltreated. In addition to yielding the information needed to make a determination about whether abuse or neglect has occurred, this approach produces evidence that will stand up in court if the investigation leads to criminal prosecution.
The top piece is knitted; the bottom piece is a quilt.
There were weavings and traditional quilts. All three of the pieces on the bottom (below) were done in "rag-quilt" style. These, too, were placed at a level where the kids could touch the pieces. (You don't have to be a kid to want to touch these. The adults at the opening reception couldn't resist running their fingers over them.)
There were a variety of subjects.
The artwork has been placed in interview rooms, conference rooms, hallways, etc.

There were lots of other great pieces that I just didn't get pictures of--for that, I apologize. I am very proud to be a part of an organization that participates in providing community art to local non-profit organizations.


Approximately how many children does the Child Advocacy Center serve in a year's time? Our agency serves 5,000 children and family members annually. The Child Advocacy Center serves 1,400 each year.

What is the purpose of the Family & Children's Place? What type of services do you provide?

Family & Children's Place has helped children in our community for more than 130 years. Our mission is to protect and heal children and families.

The new artwork is housed in the The Family & Children's Place Child Advocacy Center. The CAC is the only center providing services to children with compassionate, coordinated intervention and investigation of child sexual abuse, in this region. The CAC establishes a safe, child friendly environment providing best practices for children and family members impacted by child sexual abuse as well as forensic interviews in cases involving child physical abuse and related crimes..

Co-located within the CAC are the Crimes Against Children Unit of Louisville Metro Police, Child Protective Services, an Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney as well as physicians from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. The center also houses trained, licensed and certified family advocates and counselors to provide crisis intervention and counseling at no cost to children and their family.

These professionals collaborate to reduce trauma and provide hope and healing for children and their caregivers.

In addition to the CAC, Family & Children's Place also provides the following services to families in Kentucky and Southern Indiana:

* Individual and family counseling for families overcoming abuse and neglect

* Guidance and coaching for expecting and new parents

* Housing stabilization for families at risk of homelessness

* School interventions to increase parent engagement and improve academic performance

* Community organization to reduce youth violence and drug use



Lisa Greenbow said...

This is a great cause. The art is fabulous. I would love to go to an exhibition where you were encouraged to touch the art. I always have to remind myself "not" to touch. Some pieces are so intriguing.

Robbie said...

What a wonderful organization!!! And the interview was a bonus for us!!! Just wonderful!!

Anonymous said...

I just realized I've had this post up in my window and never left a comment about how much I loved seeing these! I especially liked the owl, but everything was really great to review. Thanks for sharing the pictures and the story and the interview!