Seated on the ground on rough carpets under a thatched roof, we survey the battered and lined faces in front of us. These are society’s rejects, the lost, the dispossessed, the broken. Yet they are all precious. Made in God’s image not just with inherent dignity and worth, but with beautiful, inherent creativity. These men are destitute. They were rescued off the streets, many of them close to death. In many cases they migrated to our city as young men in search of employment yet fell through the cracks, ending up on the streets as drug-abusers, HIV positive, some requiring amputations where injection-caused abscesses turned gangrenous. Others entered destitution due to mental illness, or physical illnesses that rendered them penniless and on the street. Some ended up destitute because they fell off a roof or were hit by a car and had nobody to help them, or those fellow migrant workers who could help had limited resources, and eventually abandoned them. Each of them has a story of pain, neglect, loss, and rejection.
Every month we meet with 30-50 of these men for an art workshop. During one of our monthly art workshops we had our destitute friends make circles on a sheet of paper, encouraging them to go crazy, allowing the circles to overlap as much as they wanted. We then asked them to look at what they had made. They all agreed, it looked messy. So we asked them to fill in the sections where the circles overlapped with color or designs. We then had them look at their works a second time. Together we discussed the difference, how the earlier version was messy, and how life often seems like that as well. But with the designs and the colors it ended up looking nice, even beautiful. We then talked about beauty and how it can be found even in the midst of difficulty. Programs like this are one of the many ways that The Create Commission serves the community around them. They seek to give hope to the marginalized by giving them a voice through art.
Have you found beauty in an unexpected place? We’d love to hear your story, leave us a comment below.