Lori Shines With an Empty Canvas

To say that art made its way into Lori’s life at the right time would be an understatement.  She had suffered the loss of her mother and best friend, and reacted by isolating herself from others.  She was battling depression, had no confidence and was in need of something—anything—to help restore her spirit and infectious smile.  In search of an outlet for her emotions, she joined the Brooklyn Art Space Alternative to Employment program offered by MENTOR Oregon.

Little changed at first.  Instead of diving into the world of color and expression, Lori chose to keep to herself and quietly grieve for her mother.  She had an overwhelming fear of separation from staff members, which limited her participation in the program’s daily activities.  Eventually, though, after being exposed to a variety of art mediums—and with a little encouragement—she began to realize how much a paintbrush and an empty canvas could change her life for the better.

Painting quickly became Lori’s form of release; her form of communication; and her form of remembrance for her mother.  This revelation opened a door to not only a new hobby, but helped Lori gain a new found drive and sense of confidence.

“Lori’s skills developed and painting proved to be a powerful vehicle for her to express her feelings and work through her grief,” said Chris Knox, the art coordinator at the Brooklyn site.  “She learned that art doesn’t always have to be happy.  She was encouraged to paint a picture about her feelings any time she experienced a sense of sadness.”

The turning point for Lori occurred with the creation of a painting she titled “Mom & Fire.”  The piece was an expression of the love she had for her mother and her own feelings of overcoming loss and loneliness.  It was appreciated by both staff members and peers and Lori beamed with pride when it  sold at a local art show.

After a few more months of painting, Lori began to feel more confident and started to make friends with fellow participants.  As a result, she spent less time focusing on the presence of staff members and more time enjoying new interests, such as socializing, art, sports and bowling on the Wii videogame system.  She has become a sought-after artist at the Brooklyn site and enjoys expressing her new positive attitude in her work, using bright and happy colors.  Lori has sold over 10 paintings in MENTOR Oregon art shows, which has allowed her more financial freedom to attend summer camps and sporting events.

Thanks to art and the support of the MENTOR Oregon staff, Lori has become a talented artist and an inspiration for others.

“By using art as an outlet, Lori has been able to express some very difficult feelings and has since developed meaningful friendships at the program,” Brooklyn Arts Space program director Joshua Peyton said.  “She has developed a sense of pride and confidence that is directly related to her production and the sale of her artwork.”

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