In mid-May, about 25 young people from Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing campus gathered on the lawn outside the Lowry Community Center dressed in white and blue Tyvek suits. They huddled around butcher paper rolled out on the lawn, flinging paint with plastic spatulas, screams and laughter filling the campus.
ART SHOWING: Monday June 18, 5-8pm @ Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange (SPACE), Magnuson Park, Building 30
In this “Angry Art” session, the kids were encouraged to use paint colors that expressed their feelings, and to shout out any frustrations they might have while painting. It was the second of four workshops led by Art with Heart, which empowers kids to heal and develop coping skills through creative self-expression. Their work will be focal point of a June 18 art showing at Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange (SPACE) at Magnuson Park’s Building 30 that will both celebrate the youth and commemorate the life of Charleena Lyles, shot by police last June.
Lhorna Murray, a Sand Point Housing resident and mom who is active in community-building efforts, proposed bringing Art with Heart to the Sand Point campus as part of a healing process. “I believe this is important – not only to address the wounds resulting from the Lyles tragedy, but to help overcome any trauma that threatens or inhibits any child’s ability to realize his or her maximum potential,” she says. “It also ensures they are given some tools to effectively deal with future trauma.”
At the first art sessions, the leaders asked the kids, ages 6-16, “Does anyone remember what happened last summer?” And they slowly talked about Charleena and the shooting.
“People don’t really talk about it here; it is kind of a taboo subject,” Lhorna says. “The kids have kind of followed suit. Kids have been left to themselves to deal with this. And they are impacted by other things as well. It reminds them of gun violence in schools; some of the art had been about that.”
The June 18 public art showing will be at long-time partner SPACE’s nonprofit gallery. The show will “highlight how resilient the kids are – and it’s a tribute,” Lhorna says. “We lost this woman and mother. She always had a house full of kids, so this is a perfect way to honor her.
“Residents initially were concerned that any commemoration of Lyles, especially one that involved a rally or march, would be retraumatizing, especially for children. The Art with Heart project offered an alternative that focuses positive energy on the kids.”
Residential Services Director Dee Hillis was quick to get on board. “Residents expressed their desire not to see this anniversary turn their homes into a memorial or place of protest. It was easy to support this resident-led activity,” she says. “Join us in supporting our residents and the youth of Sand Point by coming to SPACE to see their artwork on June 18.”
“We really appreciate Solid Ground supporting a resident-led activity and giving us the space and staff support,” Lhorna says. “We are being particularly mindful that we while recognizing this tragic loss of life, we want to maintain a living environment that supports the emotional well-being of the children and families who live here.”