Cape Girardeau's Community Caring Council and the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri are partnering for an event both hope will propel conversations on homelessness in the area.
"Opening Doors to the Homeless" is an exhibit on display in the arts council gallery, 32 N. Main St. in Cape Girardeau, and features a variety of artwork by people who have experienced homelessness or were affected as a helper to the homeless in the community. A reception will be held for the exhibit Jan. 14 where the Community Caring Council will engage attendees on the topic of homelessness in Cape Girardeau, said Murielle Wyman, director of the arts council.
Natalie Sandoval, a social worker with the Community Caring Council, and Wyman coordinated the event after being introduced by Nancy Jernigan, executive director of the United Way of Southeast Missouri. It will be held as a Saturday Social, which are events where people who aren't necessarily part of the art community but are still engaging in artistic activity can come and share their experiences, Wyman said.
The development of the partnership is an effort by the arts council to continue regional outreach efforts toward residents of all ages in a variety of artistic venues, Wyman said, but that also means including outreach to people in all walks of life, such as those who have been affected by homelessness.
"The arts should be a democratic process where everybody can create art and express themselves in some way or another," she said.
Most works in the exhibit are for sale. Seventy percent of the proceeds from any pieces sold will go to the artist, while the remainder will go to support the Community Caring Council. The council consists of members from around 70 agencies that work together to address social issues in the community.
Linda Garner, executive director of the Safe House for Women, worked with Sandoval to find pieces that would fit with the show. Several works were created by clients of the shelter. The shelter encourages art therapy for clients and the pieces for those clients can represent a healing process for those who have been victim of abuse or homelessness, Garner said. Safe House for Women volunteers also donated pieces to be displayed in the show.
Garner viewed the exhibit at December's First Friday open house event and said she saw a positive response from the community.
Sandoval's highlighting of the issue of homelessness in the community is something Garner said she observed people definitely responding to during that event.
"A different way of framing that message is through art, and I thought it was very effective," she said.
Wyman said speakers at the reception will include people who work with the homeless and a representative from the Community Caring Council who will talk about the group's mission.
The reception will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 14 at the arts council. The exhibit will be on display through Jan. 28.
32 North Main Street, Cape Girardeau, MO
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