Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Harmony Gardens Healthy Girl Initiative

Recently, I have been involved with The Harmony Gardens Community Initiative which is working collectively with mothers and daughters living in high risk Cincinnati neighborhoods. The goal is a collaborative effort where the women come together in their communities to dialogue on the topic, "What makes a Healthy Girl?" The end results of those discussions generated a list of concepts that might be used to answer the initial question. Furthermore, the mothers and daughters were sent out into the community to take pictures to support their ideas.
The next stage of this project involves artists visually responding to those ideas and photographs by producing a visual creative connective thread that continues the dialogue through a finished piece of artwork.
For my art piece I chose to focus on the question "Who Am I" in relation to making choices. One's personal chosen direction leads to answer the question. As young girls search for their self image and explore making healthy choices, the "who they are" and "who they want to be" becomes important to their success.
The lid of the decoupaged box poses the question. The images of natural vines are dormant, with only a hint of promise in the form of a few emerging leaves. The faceless figure with the words 'who am I' stitched on the face stands before an old stone archway referencing a photo of an overpass taken by the women. Once the lid of the box is opened, the promise is revealed. The interior contains the same arch, but now, the arched image is surrounded by flowering vines and butterflies emerging from the archway. The box "contains" the promise of a fullfilling life, if the right path is chosen.
The final step in this process is to spread the message of positive self image beyond the original community nucleus. The artwork, which travels to other venues in other communities, jumpstarts that conversation, bringing the initiative full circle and providing the stimulus for those communities to start a dialogue on "What makes a healthy girl?"
Jan Thomas

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