Hope Haven helps organize art show

By Mary Diamond

An upcoming opening at The Art Box Sunday will feature photography and poetry from young artists with a unique perspective on life.

Six residents of Hope Haven, 1145 Rushmoore Drive, DeKalb’s transitional housing shelter for homeless families, have been working with local professionals to put together a show beginning April 15 through May 18. The artists range from 9 to 16 years old.

The opening starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Art Box, 308 E. Lincoln Highway and at 3 p.m., several of the participants will read their own poetry and compositions.

“A lot of people write about or photograph homeless individuals, but those individuals don’t usually have the tools to express that themselves,” said Dan Kenney , who is on the board of directors for Hope Haven and organized the event.

Kenney brought in photojournalists from the Daily Chronicle and writing professors from NIU to work with the children on their projects for the exhibit. Angie Shaulis , Hope Haven case manager, also helped organize the project.

Kyle Bursaw and Rob Winner of the Daily Chronicle taught photography skills and John Bradley and Bonnie Amezquita, NIU English instructors, worked with the children on writing exercises.

“Every once in a while one of the young writers would mention ‘I’m homeless’ and work it into a poem,” Bradley said. “I think they showed great honesty and courage.”

Kenney said the children’s photographs of daily life, including playing football and going to school, are an artistic expression of their separate sense of self – apart from the stereotype of being homeless. This expression gives the children a voice to share their experiences with the rest of the world.

“We live in a society where art is deemed as useless, and I think not,” said Dan Grych, owner of The Art Box. “Art nurtures and balances society. It’s what we draw from ourselves, our souls, our beliefs. It’s what we make that you can’t buy in a store. We all have our interpretations and they’re worth looking at. It’s our voice for what people wouldn’t know otherwise.”