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Friday, December 19, 2014

ArtStreet aims to dismiss homeless stigma

culture@dailylobo.com

The room buzzes with energy, the tablecloths are splattered with acrylic rainbows, a pottery wheel spins actively in one corner and the sounds of laughter and guitar mingle with one another.

The story we hear about the homeless is one of survival; the story ArtStreet tells is one of life.

Part of the non-profit organization Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless, ArtStreet is a community-based project where art is used as a path to community-building for those with and without homes, according to abqhch.org.

ArtStreet is more than just studio space though, it is about creating relationships and giving hope, Mindy Grossberg, the program’s coordinator, said.

“ArtStreet is all about breaking down barriers between individuals who otherwise may not have the good fortune to meet,” she said.

On Friday, ArtStreet kicks off its latest exhibition at the Harwood Art Center, “Recycled Heart: Re-claimed, Re-purposed, and Re-done.”

The show will last for 20 days and features artwork made from repurposed materials, she said.

Anand Naren-Oma, one of the artists featured in the exhibit and a self-described hippie, said he often uses found objects in his artwork.

“As an artist, I make it a habit to visit dumpsters. People throw away wonderful things that can be creatively transformed,” he said.

One of the biggest effects of the program is the way in which people begin to see the world differently, Grossberg said.

“Individuals who come to the studio (who are not homeless) learn a lot from their brothers and sisters who are, and they may take this experience to help change structural policies that undermine the strength of those living in poverty and thus fail us all,” she said.

Naren-Oma said he does not want people to feel bad for attendees of ArtStreet, because the program and this exhibit are happy occasions.

“One might think ArtStreet is a gathering of suffering people, and certainly we do all have our stories, but I find a lot of joy and innocence expressed by the creative process,” Naren-Oma said.