Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Family In Progress

I know people get tired of hearing this from me, but it's my litany: 
Art saves lives.

Art can save the world.

How do I know? Because I've seen it. I don't mean to suggest that ONLY art saves lives. That would be silly. It's equally silly to think that art is just pretty or angry or useless.

Want an example? I have lots, but let's start with this one. Missouri Adoption Heart Gallery Project

The Heart Gallery has affiliates all over the country. The Missouri project was started three years ago by photographer Dana Colcleasure, who truly is my hero. She worked for a couple of years to cut through bureaucratic red tape, appease obstructive egos and recruit photographers. I bugged her for months when I first heard of it -- long before she was ready for photographers -- because I wanted to be part of this project.

Heart Gallery photographers are professionals who take fine art portraits of children awaiting adoption. We try to show their personality, their life-spark. The portraits then tour the state in galleries and shopping centers and community centers, hoping a family will be inspired to inquire about adoption.

It works. Hundreds of children in MO have been adopted in the last three years. I know of at least two children I have photographed who have found "forever families." Thousands are still waiting. 

This year I photographed 12 children! Every one of them is beautiful and fun and perfect and loveable. Every once in a while I check the gallery to see how they are faring. WHOOPPIEEE! Xavier, Jordan & George Michael have a family in progress! Taking on three boys is a challenge, but this family will be the best!

So you might be thinking: I don't know if I can do that. These kids are older. Some have "issues." Some have disabilities. 

Yep. That's right. But we ALL have issues. And I don't know if you can do it either. But I know we have to do something! Each one of us who is successful stood on the shoulders of others. We were lifted and coached and encouraged. That's what these kids deserve too.

Now, let's see what we can do for Blaine, Willie, sisters Tiffany, Tierra and Sharda, James, Felicia and twins Kantriel & Keron. The Missouri Heart Gallery has been touring the state since May. It opened in St. Louis yestereday and will be in various locations throughout the month of September. See the whole schedule here. Please visit it and spread the word. 

Can art save lives? I made a simple piece of art in March and three boys will celebrate Christmas with parents and their "forever family." I know I just had a small part in it, but it's a part I'm humbled and privileged to do.

We can't fix everything, but we can fix something. Art saves lives. Art can change the world.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful project. Thanks for the information.

Dana - LivingTree Photography & Next! Resale Boutique (coming soon) said...

Hero - you goofball! I'm just a Mom with a soft heart and a big camera - just like you - so if you want to use the word hero you must also apply it to yourself. I'm a woman, just like you, who believes Art can change the world. And you and I are two really lucky people who have had a chance to experience that first hand. Isn't it incredible?!

And a big shout out to LaRhonda Wilson whose real age shall remain a secret. Without her, the Heart Gallery would never have seen the light of day. And without you, Jeane, the images wouldn't be nearly as inspiring.

What a big love fest this is!
Peace,
Dana