The Free Art Effect

If you need a reminder of what art can do, check out Free Arts Minnesota.  In the past year, we have run into Free Arts Minnesota as Rock the Cradle 2010 and at the FLOW Arts Festival in North Minneapolis, and each time, I have been reminded of how much I love their mission.  Here’s a bit from the web site:

“We at Free Arts know that artistic expression is a successful way to externalize emotions and gain self confidence. Through dance, drama, writing, music, painting, sculpting, photography and other avenues of creativity, Free Arts volunteers work to increase children’s self-esteem and build character by unlocking the imagination. Children and families participating in Free Arts programs learn ways to channel emotion, release anger and express themselves safely. Building artistic skills gives children a positive sense of their own abilities.”

I have seen this again and again in the teen fiction I read.  The best example I can think of is Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, in which a young teen who was raped finds her voice through art.  I recently read another great example of the “free art effect,” as I am calling it: I am J by Cris Beam.  J, who used to be Jeni, is attempting to come out to his parents and best friend as transgender.  He uses photography both as a creative outlet and also as a way to communicate.  In a subplot about J’s best friend, Melissa, we watch Melissa follow J’s example.  She uses dance to speak about self mutilation, which results in her getting help.  These are the stories I want to hear about the kids in our communities.
Support Free Arts Minnesota to make these stories happen.