March 14, 2014

Students Spread Awareness Through Art

, adapted from the Cleburne

A painting of a beautiful woman in a red dress with a bruised
eye stares intently into nothing as spectators return her gaze. She, among
other paintings of bruised and battered women and children, hung on the wall of
the Meadows Gallery at Chan Shun Centennial Library at Southwestern Adventist
University (SWAU) in Keene, Texas.

SWAU art students held an Art for Awareness show in support of
the Johnson County Family Crisis Center (JCFCC). As part of the show visitors
donated toiletries that the art class would later donate to the center.

Amy Lane, JCFCC prevention specialist, was available with flyers
of things to do for someone in an abusive relationship. She said she was happy
when art instructor Marcela Wall contacted her about the art show.

“I was thankful because even though we’ve been in the community
for 30 years, people are still not aware about our services,” Lane said. “It’s
great, too, to have another community in Keene to serve.”

Wall assigned her students to paint a photograph that presented
pain and abuse and to make it their own. “The goal was to have students reach
people’s emotions,” Wall said. “When people look at art it invokes emotion,
whether it’s negative or positive. This is also a nice way for them to be part
of a cause.”

A few years ago, Wall conducted a similar assignment in support
of a homeless shelter in Fort Worth. But this year she wanted her students to
work with a local organization.

“I looked up shelters around here and I found the Family Crisis
Center,” she said. “They were so excited about the art show, and really good to
work with.”

The art show consisted of paintings and ceramics that
represented domestic violence. Ceramics included plates and pots, which created
a sense of home and peace. The paintings were the main feature of the evening.

Fire science junior Karina Lima had never painted anything
before the assignment. Her painting, “Fighter,” features a woman slightly
hunched over with a bloody and battered face.

“I found this photo on the Internet, and it really inspired me,”
Lima said. “The woman in the photo seemed so emotional and vulnerable, so I
changed her stance in my painting so she could seem stronger. I wanted her to
fight for herself.”

The woman’s eye is the focal point in her painting. Lima said that
eyes are among her favorite things to draw. “Like they say, ‘Eyes are the
windows to the soul,’” she said. “Eyes are just so expressive; it’s the first
thing people see when talking to someone.”

Lima, who’s had friends and family who are victims of abuse,
said the art show can benefit the students at SWAU. “It takes a lot of support
to help someone in that situation, and this art shows students that they do
have that support,” she said.

The painting of sophomore Samuel Azua, a general education
major, reflected more on the effect of verbal abuse rather than physical abuse.
The painting pictured a man hovering over a child, with a fist coming out of
his mouth ready to hit the child. Azua said it took him a while to find a photo
for inspiration, but he finally found one that focused on verbal abuse rather
than physical abuse.

“People don’t think words hurt, but they can hurt even worse
than physical pain, especially for children,” he said. “Studies show children
are more traumatized by verbal abuse, because as young children they soak in
every word and take it with them as they grow older.”

Azua, who also experienced painting for the first time, said it
was a neat experience because it showed him that he had other abilities. The
opportunity also allowed him and his classmates to learn about domestic and
child abuse.

“I have a son of my own, and this experience has made me reflect
on my own parenting,” Azua said. “I originally wanted to be a police officer
because I wanted to help people. I never thought of art as being way to help

Elementary education freshman, Dalia Rodriguez, was walking by
when she came across the art show. “This show is significant,” she said. “It’s
made me see that abuse can happen to anyone.”

Rodriguez said she was surprised when she learned the students
were beginners. Rodriguez expressed a desire to support art and the students. “The
fact they could do work like this means we need to be in support of these
students who could possibly go on and be very successful,” she said.

When asked if any of the paintings impacted her emotionally, Rodriguez
pointed at the beautiful woman in the red dress. “No matter how beautiful you
are, anyone can be suffering from abuse,” she said.

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