FotoFest 2015 Exhibition
The overall Purpose and Goal of our creative arts program is to expose our women to the importance of reflection, various forms of expression and how they can be perceived by different audiences, and effective communication skills.
Creative art is an important component of our program at Angela House. The goals of our creative arts program are two-fold: first, our women learn new ways to spend their free time, and second, they are introduced to new, effective forms of self-expression and communication.
Angela House is a communal environment, and as such, we encourage our residents to learn to live in community with one another. This involves learning effective communication, developing an intuitive sense of one’s feelings, and understanding deliberate self-expression.
The creative arts programs at Angela House support this goal in that they expose our women to the importance of reflection, how various forms of expression are received by different audiences, and effective communication skills. Our women use the skills they learn in writing and drama group in job interviews, in relationships with family and friends, and in all scenarios they will face as they create a new life for themselves in our community.
There are two weekly creative arts groups offered to residents: creative writing and photography. Each group is facilitated by a community volunteer.
Anne Gorman facilitates the creative writing group, which meets on Tuesday mornings for an hour. Anne was introduced to Angela House through the South Hampton Garden Club, who are long-time supporters. She had participated in writing courses at the Jung Center and saw the benefit of exposing our women to this form of art and creative expression. Each week, Anne provides our residents with excerpts from which to read as models of various forms of writing. She then provides a prompt, which the women respond to in whatever form of writing feels best for them, such as a poem or journal entry. For many, journaling, reflecting on one’s thoughts and feelings, is a distant concept. At first, women are hesitant, unsure of themselves and their creative abilities. Not too long after they begin, however, our women report journaling every day. Each woman is amazed at how uplifted she feels after a session with her paper and a pen.
Literacy Through Photography
Healthcare for the Homeless Houston has partnered with Houston FotoFest and Angela House for two years now to provide the award-winning Literacy Through Photography program for the women of Angela House. The program seeks to empower the women to express themselves through writing and photography on themes like self, community and dreams. A professional artist comes to the house every week to teach the women how to see the world through the lens of a camera. But that isn’t the only lesson, the women come to see the whole world differently. Here is what our resident, Toni had to say about the program -
"Photography class taught me a lot. It helped calm my mind, it helped me not be so tense. In class, you see things different – even ordinary things you see every day, it looks so different now. I never even thought about doing stuff like taking pictures. It all made me feel like I was worth something. I never thought I could take a picture. Then I realized I can do it and then go and do so much with it. I probably won’t ever have a dark room or anything like that, but now I realize how much you can do with just a camera. I was really happy for the class. I mean we took pictures of things like sticks and made something beautiful out of it.”
The projects can be seen around Angela House and once a year as part of a professional exhibition in an art gallery, sponsored by Houston FotoFest.
Both creative art programs provide a moment of celebration, which affirms for the women that there are people who support them in their journey to turn their lives around.