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Display featuring work from foster children debuts at Phoenix Art Museum

(KTAR News/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — A unique art exhibit is now open at the Phoenix Arts Museum.

“To Be Me” features work from foster children who endured abuse. Their paintings tell their stories, and show the world who they perceive themselves to be. Some have tiny things like wooden beads, or a silvery women’s watch. Other works feature gauzy ribbons and magazine photos.

The exhibit’s the result of the partnership between Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, the Phoenix Art Museum and Phoenix-based teaching artist Shelly Love. During the series, the girls spent six weeks exploring the creative process and putting together their final portraits.

Autumn’s been in foster care for a while; her work is one of those displayed. She says art’s helping her and other program participants with life in general.

“Helping us cope, and helping us be creative … and having that time to calm down and have fun,” she said. “Art also helps us tell our stories the way that some people don’t know how to.”

Sarah Ann, who loves to paint blue skies and used a watch in her portrait, learned that there are no mistakes in art.

“I also learned to respect myself and my art. I just like painting; it helps me relieve stress,” she said.

Kaela Saenz Oriti, the museum’s education director, said the experience was profound for everyone.

“It’s been the purpose of art since the beginning of art,” Oriti said. “To share experiences and to tell stories, and to … mark this history and time.

“It’s a great experience, to make art.”

“To Be Me” will be open at the Museum’s Wolfsickel Education Center until Oct. 15.

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