An upcoming art exhibit at Theatre 810 gives a glimpse of life seen through the eyes of Acadiana’s homeless women, with collages and photographs by the women of the Outreach Center for Women and Children.
The exhibit, named “The Inner ‘I’: A Portrait of Emotional Expressions,” will be on display for only two days, opening on Friday and continuing during Saturday’s ArtWalk. The Saturday showing also will have a closing reception.
The photographs were taken as a part of the third Recovery Academy offered to the women of the shelter, where local artists mentor the women in a chosen field and teach a series of workshops. This year’s workshop was taught by photographer Chad Lege.
“This year, the ladies participated in a series of photography workshops where they learned about the medium. They learned about mixed media. We took some field trips, and we went to Lake Martin,” said Jill Meaux, the CEO of the Outreach Center, which held the academy in partnership with the Plastic Theater of Lafayette.
“I don’t think any of them had been out there before, and we selected Lake Martin because we kind of felt like getting back to nature and just being out there in that beautiful environment would be a way for them to kind of connect and use nature as a part of the healing process.”
Because they used disposable cameras, the women had to think carefully before taking each shot, and each of the photos were put together to form the collage that will be on display for the public. The women’s artwork will be theirs to keep after the event.
The previous workshops covered poetry and acting, with a focus on what Meaux called using art as a way of healing. Recovery Academy is funded through grants from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the Acadiana Center for the Arts and St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.
The exhibit is free to the public and open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. both nights.
The Outreach Center for Women and Children, a nonprofit group, serves Acadiana as a shelter for women and their children. They offer life skills and job training, job placement assistance and counseling. The center first opened its doors in 1990 as a day shelter.
“When you are poverty stricken or when you are struggling with an addiction, especially when you’re an adult, you’re often worried about paying the light bill or when rent is due,” Meaux said. “They don’t have the opportunity to participate in anything like this, so it’s a drastically underserved population.”