Fostering hope

By Dana Casadei

Art exhibit heightens awareness of teenagers in foster care system

The First Sunday Gallery Walk is usually dedicated to established or upcoming artists, but at Absolute Gallery this Sunday, guests will be greeted by novice artists working with elementary media. Raku, fiber and oil paints will be replaced by crayons, magic markers and Popsicle sticks as eight teenage artists who are part of Wendy´s Wonderful Kids — a program that helps children in the foster care system — display their work.

“We´re looking to find these kids forever homes,” said Whitney Banks, adoption recruiter at St. Vincent Catholic Charities and the event´s organizer. “One of the kids created a plate that has hearts around it. He said that he needs love from his future family.”

This is the third such exhibit at Absolute Gallery, following successful shows last November and May. Four of the artists will be present to discuss their pieces and “vision boards.” Banks said that vision boards have three themes: dreams, needs and haves. This lets viewers get into the mind of the young artists.

“These kids have a story why they´re putting this artwork together,” said Tamra Johnson, a spokeswoman for St. Vincent. “They´re allowing families to see what exactly it is they want in a family. Anything that we can do to make (adoption) happen, I want to be a part of.”

Banks got the idea to display art from kids looking for a home when she was on a date and stopped into a gallery to see if its featured any children´s art. She was recommended to go to Absolute Gallery, where she was told they did a lot with kids’ art.

"I went there, checked out the gallery and instantly got a great vibe," Banks said. She wrote an email to gallery owner Kathy Holcomb about her idea, and Holcomb quickly replied that they had to do this.

Banks said she hopes to continue doing the show in November and May of each year (November is National Adoption Month; May is National Foster Care Month). There are also plans to take the art exhibit to other places.

“What We Really Need”
Opening reception: 1 p.m. Sunday
Absolute Gallery
307 E. Grand River, Lansing
(517) 482-8845