By Maria Mazzocco, Urban Ministry Center
As a program of Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center, ArtWorks 945 is a functioning gallery and studio comprised of local artists who struggle with homelessness and urban poverty. In celebration of the power of human resilience, ArtWorks recognizes that profound healing and validation is possible through the act of creating. By offering arts instruction and open studio time, ArtWorks provides a safe space for positive action. In turn, relationships are built and people can work towards transitioning out of homelessness.
During the month of March ,ArtWorks participants engaged in a study of Surrealism. Starting in the 1920’s, Surrealism emerged as an art movement that sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind. With guidance, ArtWorks artists explored how their dreams are connected to art making, and navigating the reality they live in. This included playing the Surrealist game “Exquisite Corpse” where artists collaborated on drawing figures without first seeing the work of their partners.
These studies culminated on March 26 when ArtWorks took a field trip to see Pilobolus Dance Company at the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts – made possible with a $582 Special Project Grant from ASC. For many of the artists, it was their first time seeing a live dance performance. Pilobolus, an internationally renowned dance company, is known for its playful choreography that uses physical interaction to create new forms. Human bodies morph into the shapes of cars, trees and other unbelievable shapes such as an elephant or camp fire. Not only did this performance expand ArtWorks artists’ understanding of visual art and human movement, it also challenged their understanding of what is possible in their lives. When the first dancers appeared on stage, one attendee exclaimed, “Wow! This is unbelievable.”