Interfaith Works, JHU MCC Team Up to Exhibit Art from IW Clients
by Aliyah DeVille
What does it take to make great art? Nothing more than passion.
That was the sentiment at the reception for the Interfaith Works art exhibit, which was on display at the Johns Hopkins Montgomery County Campus from August 29 – October 28. The exhibit, which featured work by more than 12 different artists, included a mix of genres, from abstract sketches to photography and everything in between. \
The idea for the exhibit came about when the campus sponsored the Interfaith Works Companies Caring Breakfast, during which the organization highlighted a mural that one of its clients painted at a shelter.
Three artists – Mohammed “Amdy” Jones, Joyce Godffrey, and Rhonda Palmer – attended the reception to talk about their work.
“I don’t think about what I do. I just go with it,” said Jones of his art.
Jones is known as one of the more creative students in the bunch. So creative, in fact, that he has even made collages out of toilet paper.
The theme of the evening seemed to be that art should just happen naturally.
“I make my pictures, I don’t like to take them,” said photographer Rhonda Palmer. The other common theme was that each artist had a tie to Interfaith Works, a non-profit organization that serves more than 35,000 homeless and low-income individuals in Montgomery County and offers numerous programs such as Community Vision, the program in which the art on display was produced.
Each piece was so distinct that the Community Vision teachers who were present were able to call the name of the artist of each work of art simply by glancing at it.
Community Vision works in conjunction with another non-profit, Art for the People, to offer weekly art classes to those who may be struggling financially. The classes teach a wide range of techniques, from simple drawings to silk screens. Many participants, like Godffrey, can be found at every meeting.
And the Community Vision program offers much more beyond just the art classes. The program provides numerous services to those who are homeless, including emergency shelters on winter nights and laundry, shower, and transportation services. As part of Interfaith Works, Community Vision also provides a Vocational Services Program to help participants get back on their feet. These services include computer skills courses and job placement assistance.
In addition to Community Vision, Interfaith Works hosts a number of programs that reach beyond those facing poverty. One of its unique programs is Neighbors Stand Together, which encourages families to get in touch with homeless individuals in their communities. Interfaith Works representative Heather Steed says the organization hosts these information sessions “asking for nothing in return, just that those who come tell their friends about us.”
The Community Vision teachers say that for many, the art program serves as a great way for participants to unwind and focus on something else.
Perhaps Interfaith Works Executive Director Marie Henderson put it best when she said, “In all the chaos of the day, there’s time to stop and look at something beautiful.”