Students Spread Awareness Through Art
, adapted from the Cleburne Times
A painting of a beautiful woman in a red dress with a bruised eye stares intently into nothing as spectators return her gaze. She, among other paintings of bruised and battered women and children, hung on the wall of the Meadows Gallery at Chan Shun Centennial Library at Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) in Keene, Texas.
SWAU art students held an Art for Awareness show in support of the Johnson County Family Crisis Center (JCFCC). As part of the show visitors donated toiletries that the art class would later donate to the center.
Amy Lane, JCFCC prevention specialist, was available with flyers of things to do for someone in an abusive relationship. She said she was happy when art instructor Marcela Wall contacted her about the art show.
“I was thankful because even though we’ve been in the community for 30 years, people are still not aware about our services,” Lane said. “It’s great, too, to have another community in Keene to serve.”
Wall assigned her students to paint a photograph that presented pain and abuse and to make it their own. “The goal was to have students reach people’s emotions,” Wall said. “When people look at art it invokes emotion, whether it’s negative or positive. This is also a nice way for them to be part of a cause.”
A few years ago, Wall conducted a similar assignment in support of a homeless shelter in Fort Worth. But this year she wanted her students to work with a local organization.
“I looked up shelters around here and I found the Family Crisis Center,” she said. “They were so excited about the art show, and really good to work with.”
The art show consisted of paintings and ceramics that represented domestic violence. Ceramics included plates and pots, which created a sense of home and peace. The paintings were the main feature of the evening.
Fire science junior Karina Lima had never painted anything before the assignment. Her painting, “Fighter,” features a woman slightly hunched over with a bloody and battered face.
“I found this photo on the Internet, and it really inspired me,” Lima said. “The woman in the photo seemed so emotional and vulnerable, so I changed her stance in my painting so she could seem stronger. I wanted her to fight for herself.”
The woman’s eye is the focal point in her painting. Lima said that eyes are among her favorite things to draw. “Like they say, ‘Eyes are the windows to the soul,’” she said. “Eyes are just so expressive; it’s the first thing people see when talking to someone.”
Lima, who’s had friends and family who are victims of abuse, said the art show can benefit the students at SWAU. “It takes a lot of support to help someone in that situation, and this art shows students that they do have that support,” she said.
The painting of sophomore Samuel Azua, a general education major, reflected more on the effect of verbal abuse rather than physical abuse. The painting pictured a man hovering over a child, with a fist coming out of his mouth ready to hit the child. Azua said it took him a while to find a photo for inspiration, but he finally found one that focused on verbal abuse rather than physical abuse.
“People don’t think words hurt, but they can hurt even worse than physical pain, especially for children,” he said. “Studies show children are more traumatized by verbal abuse, because as young children they soak in every word and take it with them as they grow older.”
Azua, who also experienced painting for the first time, said it was a neat experience because it showed him that he had other abilities. The opportunity also allowed him and his classmates to learn about domestic and child abuse.
“I have a son of my own, and this experience has made me reflect on my own parenting,” Azua said. “I originally wanted to be a police officer because I wanted to help people. I never thought of art as being way to help others.”
Elementary education freshman, Dalia Rodriguez, was walking by when she came across the art show. “This show is significant,” she said. “It’s made me see that abuse can happen to anyone.”
Rodriguez said she was surprised when she learned the students were beginners. Rodriguez expressed a desire to support art and the students. “The fact they could do work like this means we need to be in support of these students who could possibly go on and be very successful,” she said.
When asked if any of the paintings impacted her emotionally, Rodriguez pointed at the beautiful woman in the red dress. “No matter how beautiful you are, anyone can be suffering from abuse,” she said.
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