A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Aug 26, 2020

In this guest blog, Lieutenant Karen Felton, officer at The Salvation Army Midwest Corps Community Center, shares how a generous female donor and a renowned photographer are bringing hope and beauty right when her community needs it most.

The Midwest Corps community has definitely seen our share of pain and sorrow over these last few months. Many neighborhood businesses were looted, and while some have been able to reopen, many remain boarded up with spray-painted signs reminding us “we are empty.”

There’s been unprecedented violence in our neighborhood, and many days our tutoring children have not been able to come to the building because their parents do not feel safe letting them out of the house.

A beloved member of our church passed away from COVID-19, and another fought the illness and won. Many of our corps members remain quarantined and feel the deep loneliness of isolation, and we try to find creative solutions for those who do not have access to technology.

It can all start to feel like there is only darkness and struggle. Nevertheless, at Midwest Corps we also continue to see hope and beauty.

Most recently, an anonymous donor generously gifted five works of art by the renowned Chicago artist/photographer Clifton Henri. Mr. Henri has a body of work that offers a beautiful, honest, and poignant look into the lives of the African American community in Chicago. These art pieces donated to Midwest have touched our staff and us deeply.

The Salvation Army feels strongly that art can open up doors in the hearts and lives of the children and clients we serve, often in a way that case management or other services cannot. Art is an invaluable tool for people who have experienced trauma to use as a means to express their pain. It can also be an invitation to remember that the world is also a place of great beauty. 

In Scripture, God makes beauty from ashes. Through art, God can communicate to us that He is still the divine creator and that His creation is good. Art invites us in to think deeply and to be curious about the world beyond our own neighborhood and circumstances.

We were blessed with a visit from the donor and Mr. Henri, and we are very excited about the possibilities this gift could mean for artistic opportunities for the children.

We are also extremely excited for the day we can install these art pieces on the walls of Midwest Corps. We are planning an extensive renovation, and as soon as the work is complete, Mr. Henri will return to help us with the perfect placement of these pieces. We will also host an open house to celebrate the renovation and spotlight these wonderful works of art.

Additionally, the donor made a generous financial gift to expand our fine arts program to include teenagers, seniors, and a creative initiative for those experiencing homelessness. 

We have a saying at our corps: We are “Blessed at Midwest,” and Mr. Henri and our generous benefactor have greatly increased our blessings.

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