Etched Deep: A Place Where Art Reclaims Lives

Aug. 4, 2017

There is a place downtown where creativity inspires dreams in those who had long ago stopped dreaming. Where vision reignites ambition in those who'd long since given up. Where praise encourages the ignored and trust empowers the doubted. 

There is a place downtown where Hope is etched deep.

Ken greets us at the door. He's happy to see us again but sorry that he can't remember our names. He says we do look familiar. He just isn't so good with names anymore because of all the ECT. He laughs nervously like he's convincing himself that this is somehow funny. He doesn't know what projects we're doing tonight, but he knows they'll be good.

Pharoah comes in and puts his crumpled grocery bag on the table--it isn't filled with groceries, it's filled with notebooks. Removing each one reverently, he stacks them, then lays a hand down on the top one as if to swear an oath. Quietly, he asks if we'd like to hear a poem. If we do, he'll need a minute to find one that is appropriate for all audiences, one that doesn't have curse words and that doesn't require yelling.

And Nate arrives to drop off his hand drawn flyers advertising his debut art show coming up next month. He shuffles on the balls of his feet, nodding proudly when he learns his show will be the most well-attended one to date. He tells us of his girlfriend Sheila and how she's had Lyme Disease. He's very pleased to meet us and repeats our names again as if to memorize them before he disappears out into the city.

We sit down and we each pick up a tile. Yellow or pink. We pick up our carving tools and begin to create our own unique designs. Anything we want to imagine. We are told we can do whatever we think of as long as we carve deep. Get down below the color surface so it sticks when they fire the tile. So it stays. Just carve it in. Dig down deep. Dream hard.

Ken and Pharoah, Nate and Sheila know how to dig deep. And they have remembered how to dream and to imagine and to create right here. Their freedom to hope was etched deep into them when they first stepped inside this place.

Yes, we know Poverty and Homelessness lurk just outside that door. And we see Mental illness and Addiction hovering there too. But Ken and Pharoah, Nate and Sheila don't get distracted by that gloom. 

Their Hope, like ours, is etched deep.

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