Aiming to bring awareness to youth homelessness through artwork, the Y2Y homeless shelter hosted an art exhibition on Saturday as part of this weekend’s Arts First Festival.
Featuring pieces made by guests and volunteers, as well as some donated by local high school students, the showcase also aimed to showcase Y2Y’s recent initiative to promote art as a both a skill and a means of creative expression.
The initiative started when local art teacher Evmorphia Stratis read the Boston Globe Magazine’s “Bostonians of the Year” last December and saw an honorable mention of Y2Y founders, Sarah A. Rosenkrantz ’14 and Samuel G. Greenberg ’14.
Upon learning of the youth homeless shelter’s opening in Harvard Square, Stratis said she was immediately impressed and wanted to get involved.
“I sent in my resume, came in and talked to them, and said ‘I’d love to offer a class, volunteer once a week, and have an open arts session,’” Stratis said.
Over the past several months, Stratis has held a weekly class at Y2Y, which she said has explored various art styles and encouraged free expression.
“When you have a place like this you kind of want to give people the space to do what they want to do, and to express themselves visually, without words, which is important a lot of times too,” Stratis said.
After several classes, the shelter’s volunteers wanted to display the art that the class had produced.
“We reached out to the Office for the Arts after Evmorphia’s class had been running every week and we had a great collection of really diverse pieces from several of the shelter’s guests and volunteers,” Y2Y volunteer Lance Johnson ’18 said. “We thought it would be a great idea to show this to the public and really reveal its value.”
The exhibit featured several drawings and paintings by the class, depicting landscapes, still-lifes, and abstract and expressionist art. It also included a re-creation of the Y2Y facility made on Minecraft, a building game, by a guest of the shelter.
In addition, pottery and pieces made from food packaging were donated by Beacon High School in Watertown, Mass., to raise awareness for hunger. The school will eventually sell the art and donate the proceeds to Y2Y.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to showcase the creative expression which normally goes unseen and kind of give a public voice to a very unique and very powerful experience that can manifest itself in really beautiful works we have here,” Johnson said.
Harvard’s Homelessness DilemmaHarvard could allocate more funding to the Square’s three homeless shelters and help develop the necessary programs to get homeless individuals on their feet. Harvard could also help in terms of housing.
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