The Path That Led to ArtPower
When people ask me why I do this, I can only say that ArtPower is the culmination of everything I have ever done in my life-- Living in a foreign country as a child-- twice. Art is how I escaped troubling times as a teen. My pursuit of a Master's Degree in Art Therapy led me from a fine arts degree in painting to my social work with abused and neglected kids in an abuse prevention program, then working with drug addicted mother's and their children, then finally my graduate studies.
My work as an art therapist in the inner city elementary school in Chicago prepared me for ArtPower! years before I even conceived of the organization. The population of the school was mainly Hispanic and very poor, and most of the kids spoke English as their second language if they spoke English at all. I learned the words "cacahuates", "pintar" and "tijeras", but mostly the art sessions were quiet with creativity, work and concentration. I was fascinated by the silent stories the young artists told, and how we could, in the sanctuary of the studio, work through problems, express fears, ideas, or dreams, change behaviors, and improve their school performance through the work of making art.
An unplanned side road into decorative painting (that lasted 20 years) was interrupted by a request to do a kid's mural project for a local Colorado community arts center, and soon after, two more murals. (It was during this time that my husband and I started volunteering with the orphanage in Cozumel). When we ran out of walls, we moved into an unused theater room at the art center and uCreate Studio, a choice-based art studio for all ages was developed. I do this as a volunteer because I really believe in the power of art: that art can change things for the better, art can help you feel capable, and can put you on a new path.
So here we are. My husband David and I have been coming to Cozumel for many years and we have been volunteering at an orphanage in San Miguel since 2012. I have been creating mural projects and the art sessions for the kids. David, an artist blacksmith, has been welding metal beds and security grilles for the orphanage homes. Many of our friends and colleagues joined our efforts by donating money for materials and sending art supplies. We couldn't have done it without their help. Our love for the island and her people grew and we realized that we wanted to continue the work, have a greater impact and reach MORE of the community....so Art Power! was finally born.