I moved into the Grove Park neighborhood during the period of my life as I was transitioning out of teaching art at Atlanta Youth Academy, a faith-based (Christian) school established to educate underserved African-American students. At the same time, my husband and I were participating on a launch team to form a church with the vision of worshipping together in a diverse community of those seeking to hear the far-reaching story of God in one's personal life.
One Sunday I resonated with a question in the sermon ... "Who is your neighbor?" The context from the story of The Good Samaritan. After years of learning biblical texts, words I had once memorized came to my mind:
Love your neighbor as yourself
Help the poor, the needy, the widows, and the orphans
Set the prisoners free
Be devoted to one another in love
How do I live that? Seeds were planted that day. Eventually my husband, I, our daughters and sons-in-law were prompted to move into Grove Park - a neighborhood only a few miles from our present neighborhood, yet very different from our present situation.
Now, eight years later, I am leasing an art studio in a newly renovated building in Grove Park that houses organizations focused on Grove Park in some of these ways: affordable housing, restoration of homes, counseling, music recording, fashion design, a comprehensive ministry to kids and their families, along with the Grove Park Foundation.
I am the "artist in residence." And as I have moved out of my comfort zone, my art has become freer. It is evolving into expressive new forms. And, in addition to painting on canvas, I occasionally paint fabrics to be used in clothing designs by my next-door studio friend.
Reflecting on my life, I see that God has given me this gift and when I enter my studio each day, I am humbled by what He has enabled me to create when I look at the canvasses. Thank You, God! To adapt a quote from Chariots of Fire, "When I paint, I feel His pleasure."
As a result, through my art I wanted to be used to help my new community through two connection organizations, PAWKids - an afternoon enrichment program for students and parents in the neighborhood -- and Grove Park Renewal -- an organization that helps provide affordable housing to PawKids families living in substandard conditions. A percentage of all art sales will go to the team effort of these two non-profits.