Helping America's most vulnerable®

Transitional Living Facility Residents Become Artists

At the Luhman Center for Supportive Living, a Volunteers of America Southwest transitional living facility in El Cajon for male adults with mental illness, there are 40 men, all with a character of their own.

Many have felt the sting of discrimination and rejection in their lives, and with that comes a sense of isolation, discouragement and lack of engagement in social activities. In order to break the feeling of alienation among these men, an art program was introduced through the Volunteers of America Southwest ministry.

Through creativity and collaboration, a group of Luhman residents produced something truly beautiful—a large acrylic on canvas, a colorful piece of artwork. Their art piece, The Beginning, was chosen to be a part of the Martha Pace Swift Museum’s exhibition, “Recovering the Artist-IV.”

When the men entered the museum and witnessed their artwork in the center of the exhibition, a proud feeling of accomplishment enveloped them.

“I wonder what other people see when they look at the art piece we created,” said Gerald, one of the contributing artists.

As the late Henri Matisse said, “Creativity takes courage.” That lesson has been proven by the Luhman residents.

By allowing the world to see how they think and interact through art, they began to break down their walls of isolation and open new channels of expression. Through the art program the men are finding new ways of social interaction and mental stimulation, fueling collaboration and a further discovery of confidence and courage.