Friday, August 28, 2009

A note from Rob Lawrence, HELP 2 case manager

This spring, Frances McDonald brought an art project into the Community Kitchen. The following is Rob Lawrence's description of the project and it's impact.


On Main St., across from Createhere
Steel sculpture and 300 4x4 ceramic tiles

The 300 tiles making up the obelisk sculpture were created by homeless artists at The Chattanooga Community Kitchen and other area churches and agencies. Facilitated by Frances McDonald of Mark Making, artists Julie Clark, John McLeod, Carla Guerra, and other assistants, the project was not without its challenges…most notably the loss of many tiles, when they were kiln-fired incorrectly…but all involved agree it was and is an amazing outlet for their feelings and creativity. As Mr. McLeod says: "This was the most amazing teaching experience I've ever had and a rare opportunity to give back to my community. The tiles were a poignant testament."

Mark Making is a local non profit founded by Ms. McDonald whose mission is to “empower non-professional artists by teaching them 21st century problem solving skills with the goal of a more fulfilling life. For participants, many of whom face major life challenges, Mark Making provides an economic and cognitive edge in this current Age of Creativity. By creating an environment conducive to art making, as well as, coaching these emergent artists on the basics of line, shape, color, and texture, Mark Making provides a safe space for the expression of the participant’s inherent creativity. The end result is a public art project that benefits the participants and beautifies the local community.”

Each tile is marked with an individual’s drawings and/or words used to describe his/her idea of a home, commentary on being homeless, words of gratitude, dedications, memoriams, or sometimes a request for employment with their qualifications. The homeless are not the only ones to benefit from this sculpture; passers-by stop and spend a considerable amount of time circling and reading the messages posted there. I have seen tears, laughter, and a new awareness on the faces of many as they pause in their stroll down the rejuvenated and beautiful section of Main Street.

This project was selected as one of six in a competition organized and administered by the Public Art Committee under the Department of Parks and Recreation. "Homes" will be in place for two years. The City then has an option to purchase; otherwise it will go to the entrance of the CCK in 2011.

As homeless artist M. Douglas’ tile says: God’s opening doors. All I have ever wanted is a home to call my own. No one could ever make me leave. I am 54 years old. God opened a door for me last week. Now, I’m buying my home and I never have to leave!”

We would like to thank all homeless persons who created tiles. You are great poets, philosophers and visual artists. You are our real teachers and are all amazing!

Rob Lawrence
HELP 2 Case Manager