Jesse's House with Elise Aronson

Everyone knows Paint Love’s mission is to provide art programs for youth facing poverty or trauma. However, most of our followers don’t know much about our amazing partners.

Over the weekend, we got to work with an incredible organization called Jesse’s House.

 This is an emergency children’s shelter for high-risk girls ages 7-17 who are referred from the Department of Family and Children’s Services or Department of Juvenile Justice. The shelter seeks to reunify the residents with their families whenever possible and to provide a safe house until permanent placement is found.

 This place acts as a refuge for them to grow, connect, and just have a safe place to be young girls! We brought an amazing artist, Elise Aronson, who has worked with Jesse’s House before to lead our art project.

 Elise is known for taking little scraps of broken jewelry, or small pieces of wood, and turning it into an absolute masterpiece! This week, she brought some of her supplies to create little wooden homes with the girls.

 Many of these girls haven’t had a safe home until coming to Jesse’s House, so we thought it would be really therapeutic to envision their dream home and make it come to life! We brought fun paints, jewels, rhinestones, numbers, ribbon; all the things a typical girl would want on her future home!

 

 We hope that by allowing these girls to create their own special place, they feel a certain hope for their future, and redefine their idea of what home may mean. They would feel safe and peaceful thinking about their future homes.

 Thank you, Elise, for bringing this time of creative play and creating a safe space for these girls to express their thoughts. And of course, thank you to Jesse’s House for the amazing work you all do for these girls, we are so honored to have you as a partner!

Collaborative Writing at Wellspring Living

Here at Paint Love, we are firm believers in the power of storytelling. However, we are also aware of the fun of storytelling! Especially as used in a simple, creativity exercises.

 This is exactly what we brought to the girls at Wellspring Living last Saturday. Along with The Creative’s Project artist, Meredith Kooi, we brought the two essentials of collaborative storytelling; paper and pens. However, we also brought paints, oil pastels, and markers for extra fun!

 We started our activity by asking one of the Wellspring staff member’s to give us a simple sentence. She said, “Out of nowhere, Batman entered the room”! We went around in a circle each adding a sentence to the story. By the end, Robin, Wonder Woman and Michael Jackson had also appeared in the story! It was simple, but we got many laughs out of it.

 

We continued this by each person writing a sentence on a piece of paper then passing it to the person to the right who would then draw the sentence, then the next person would interpret the picture, write another sentence and pass it on, and on and on. We had stories featuring ice cream cones as large as giraffe’s necks, Pocahontas talking to trees, and singing turtles and beauty products!

 Lastly, we thought it would be fun to do this exercise on large poster boards, the girls at Wellspring vs the staff at Wellspring! We got two completely different stories, but we also got two really awesome works of life that everyone worked together on!  

The staff member's collaborative piece. Try to guess what story they were telling!

The staff member's collaborative piece. Try to guess what story they were telling!

This exercise shows how simple it can be to be “creative” or produce “art”. We had so much fun just simply telling stories in different ways! It was the perfect fun and creative exercise for a sunny summer afternoon!

Self Expression Boxes with Zully Conde at Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

During my first week of Paint Love, I didn't really know what to expect of all of our events. I knew we had amazing artists, partners, and projects, but I wasn't aware of how well they all work together! 

My first event was at the Georgia Center for Chid Advocacy with the fabulous, Zully Conde leading our art project. Zully had requested wooden boxes, modge podge & magazines paper. I assumed it would be a cool project for the kids to use their creativity and decorate some boxes. However, both Zully and the kids exceeded my expectations. 

As we all can relate, sometimes how we present ourselves to the world, doesn't always align with who we really are on the inside. We are all complex creatures, yet sometimes, whether through society's views or our own view of ourselves, we can be boxed in certain categories. 

This can be especially true of children, as they try to create and understand who they are as an individual. We used the boxes as a representation of self, the outside of the box, portraying other's perception of us, while the inside was used to express our true selves. The kids took this idea and completely made it their own. Seeing these kids explore their identity at such a young age was beautiful. 

I saw one child who decorated her box with the statement “your scars make you beautiful.” This statement could be a testament to resilient cognitions. Using them in an art format can really help children internalize these kinds of messages since they are interacting with them in a physical way rather than just saying or writing them down.
— Rebecca Ahmadi, Psychotherapist at Georgia Center for Child Advocacy

I got to stick around afterwards and see these kids show their boxes to parents and siblings. Seeing how proud they were of their creations, made me realize just how important the daily work at Paint Love is. After seeing how this event went, I'm convinced I have the best job in all of Atlanta! ;) I'm so excited to begin my journey working with Paint Love.