Except for one, it was the first time that the girls had visited a museum. As they toured the Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum they were reminded of their own heritage. The teen girls participating in this Professional Artist Series, a collaboration between Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona and the Phoenix Art Museum, are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Their journeys to America were dangerous and traumatic. Free Arts partners with agencies to provide arts programming that helps children discover their talents and process their stories.
During this series, which the girls titled Armonia Kuikuitik, Conocer es Aprender (translation: Kuikuíltik Harmony – Knowing is Learning) they toured the Phoenix Art Museum and then spent five days. working with teaching artist Oliverio Balcells to create their own works of art. The process of creating art reminded them of their innate resilience. With every stroke of their paintbrush, each girl built their artistic skills and strengthened their confidence. They took the rich history of Teotihuacan and combined it with their own cultural experiences; this combination is reflected in their paintings through the harmony of vibrant colors. On some days this experience came with challenges, but they took these challenges as opportunities to support and encourage each other. Most of the girls also had their babies with them and had to balance their time and attention in order to keep moving forward with their painting. Through and through they were determined to finish. Once their bravery bloomed, their courage became contagious for everyone that was working with them. They carried themselves with an optimistic demeanor; this experience was a boost of much-needed HOPE for everyone!
To learn more about how to volunteer for programs like this one click here.