Art for Awareness Initiative Supports Local Homeless Shelter

Beautiful art and a worthy cause are coming together again for Southwestern Adventist University’s Art for Awareness Initiative, hosted by J.N. Long Cultural Arts Complex of Cleburne.  It begins today.

The program started in 2011 under the direction of instructor Marcela Wall, who planned art exhibits to bring awareness to local charities. This time, local Johnson County artists are lending their time and talent alongside pieces by Southwestern’s art students. Local artists include Sleepy Read, bluebonnet and landscape artist, and Jeff Gottfried, a talented bronze sculpture artist who recently created the inauguration medallion for Southwestern’s new president.

The cause is the Johnson County Christian Lodge (JCCL), a homeless shelter located in Cleburne.

“This is not a typical shelter,” says Bill Wissore, president of JCCL, as he visited with the art class in preparation. “The purpose of the lodge is to empower homeless people to get out, start a new life, and find a place to live. I’m thrilled for this opportunity to work with the students.”

The Johnson County Christian Lodge combines housing for the homeless with an intensive program to get people out of homelessness. In the last four years, the shelter hosted 42,000 bed nights. A bed night is one person in one bed for one night. They’ve served more than 90,000 meals. That number is estimated to grow in the next year due to the recent opening of a new lodge for women and families.

“In my painting I wanted to show the hope in homelessness,” says Miranda Polski, sophomore art student. “You can see the pain in the eyes of the homeless child I am painting, but there are wings to show that it’s important to focus on hope.”

“Homelessness is a struggle,” says Mario Labrador, senior art student. “People don’t know where they’re going to end up. In every situation there are new things to worry about. Hope is essential to survival.”

The artists request that the community respond to the needs of our local homeless population and help provide necessities, such as paper goods, diapers, soap, shampoo, lotion, and laundry detergent. The staff at the Arts Complex will hold the items for the JCCL.

The J.N. Long Cultural Arts Complex is a relatively new exhibit hall, courtesy of the Cleburne Friends of the Cultural Arts (CFCA), whose mission is to promote and nurture a strong cultural arts community in Johnson County.  The CFCA staged their first annual Celebrate the Arts festival in November, 2012 and are excited to celebrate their new space with a ribbon cutting tomorrow.

“Since the beginning of our Art for Awareness shows in 2011, it has been our goal to show students how to use their art to cultivate community ties and bring awareness to social issues,” explains Wall. “It is exciting to be collaborating with so many of our neighbors on this project.”

Admission is free to the art show on March 26 through April 2. A reception and opportunity to meet the artists will be hosted at the Arts Complex on Tuesday, March 31, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Donations for the JCCL will be accepted then, and during the Art Complex’s regular hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Sundays) March 23 -April 3. In addition to the reception and open house on the evening of the 31st, the Cultural Arts Complex is open daily, for viewing the art and bringing donations, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (Sundays 1-4 p.m.).

The Arts Complex is located at 425 Granbury Street in Cleburne. For more information, please contact Marcela Wall at 817-202-6250 or marcelaw@swau.edu.

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