12 year old Manny:
Manny, as a past resident of The Alexandria House, a transitional home providing supportive housing for women and children in the process of moving from emergency shelter to more permanent housing, continues to be a welcomed guest at the home. When we first met Manny, he was shy and had never painted. When we told him that art is a direction of the soul, and how many of us paint our emotions, it didn’t take him long to find his style. Manny was unafraid to take risks, and would often re-paint over an entire canvas if he didn’t feel that the original painting was right. We would often sit back and watch while he would redo his painting and even though we thought each one was beautiful, we knew it served him to find comfort and truth in what he had painted. If that meant re-doing several times, it was well worth seeing the pride in his face as he grew content with his creation. Manny was not a neat artist (but how many of us are?). At the end of our sessions, we would be cleaning up paint not only on the walls of the room, but the floor, the table, the chairs, the ceiling fan, the door…and even the fish tank.
At the end of our session, Manny requested that we continue working with each other. A week later during The Castles in the Air art show (curated by Cynthia Harvey-Smith), Manny was beyond proud of his work as he would glance at his pieces being displaying on the walls of Paradiso Arts Studio in Santa Monica. The community was wonderful and empowered Manny by the different ways they encouraged him. Many people purchased his work, asked for autographs, asked him about his pieces and requested future work.
14 yr old Bella
Bella, also a past resident of The Alexandria House, has been through many adversities. Despite being a victim of abuse and having stage 4 dyslexia, she continues to make choices that only benefit her future. Together, we used a medium we were both unfamiliar with; plaster. Thanks to the help of artist Cynthia Harvey-Smith, we learned how to create the masks Bella had envisioned. Bella chose to do masks because she felt it was the best representation of healing her past to create a more positive, lighter future. The night of HeART of Gold, Bella came beautifully dressed and we welcomed the community, photographers, and family to the show.
**More information about the Alexandria House can be found here: