FINDING STRENGTH IN A COMMUNITY: INTERVIEW WITH AFTS ARTIST
CRYSTAL'S ART BACKGROUND.
She’s been involved with art since she was a child taking Commercial Art classes while living in Chicago. Her ambition was to go into advertising, but as she says, “life got in the way” with marriage, the birth of her child and her husband’s work as a minister.
HISTORY AT ART FROM THE STREETS.
Crystal has been coming to AFTS Open Studio for more than 5 years and tries to attend once a week “so that I feel like I’m doing something - life’s not just passing me by. I have something to look forward to.”
“Life can draw you away from your real talent, and AFTS helped me rediscover an old talent. [AFTS] gave me the opportunity to rekindle that talent.”
“[Art is] also good therapy, it gives me peace of mind. It is an opportunity for you to work on something - to work with your hands - to distract you from whatever problems you’re having.”
Crystal favors landscapes, and will often include a cottage in the middle or background [of her paintings]. “I like to paint houses because one of my goals is to have a house of my own with a garden in the back.”
Nature is her favorite subject, with electronic and classical music, science fiction, parks, people, and her surrounding environment all contributing to her creative process. Van Gogh and Pascal, along with fellow AFTS artists Jefferson Bright, Hugh Miles and Howard Cook are also great sources of inspiration for her work.
CREATING A COMMUNITY.
AFTS also allows her to enjoy time with her fellow artist friends. “I get to see how they’re doing because we don’t always visit each other - so we sit [and] visit during Open Studio.”
She says her fellow artists aren’t only a source of inspiration, but strength as well.
“There’s something about these particular artists to me, compared to other homeless people that I’ve met. They have this strong connection to [who they are] and what they want to do with their life.”
BEYOND ART FROM THE STREETS.
Crystal has been working on a Psychology degree from Huston-Tillotson University for several years as a part-time student. Crystal is now considered one of Art From The Streets' - Legacy Artists - meaning she has graduated from the program and transitioned off the streets. Currently Crystal is living in housing and is considered to be self sufficient - the dream AFTS has for all of their artists.
AFTS is sad we will not be seeing Crystal's smiling face in Open Studio every week, however, we are thrilled to hear of her success and graduation from the program. We wish her nothing but the best in her next chapter!
Community Art. Thank you for visiting the Art From The Streets blog, an Austin based nonprofit that provides artistic endeavors in which the positive spirit and creativity for those experiencing homelessness are nurtured through their own therapeutic art-making. If you are looking to further discuss our program, please contact us today for more information.