Artwork on display in Ward 6 office tells story of migrant children

Migrant childrens' art on display

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The walls of the Ward 6 office are now covered in artwork. Artwork made up of bright colors, slightly uneven lines, and things like butterflies and rainbows.

But the hands who held the paint brushes and markers belong to a special kind of kids. The pictures, were done by migrant children.

“The variety is astonishing for one thing,” said John Warnock as he walks along the walls of the Ward 6 Office. He’s walking through a piece of each child’s journey from their home country to the Benedictine Monastery. Some are bright and happy, while others tell a different story.

One poem titled “The Sound I Will Remember” describes the sound the thermal blankets make in detention centers.

“In the jail— the sound of the aluminum sheets

—every time someone moved

it sounded

like a storm.”

It's a piece that stuck out to Warnock. “I think people reading that are not going to forget that quickly.”

The idea for the gallery arose months ago after Council Member Steve Kozachik visited the art room at the Monastery. The artwork includes pieces done by children since the Monastery opened as a shelter, including some pieces that date all the way back to 2014 when Casa Alitas first came to be.

The range of emotions seen in these pieces is something Activity and Arts Coordinator Valarie James sees daily at the Benedictine Monastery.

“It’s really for them a place to focus, a place to experience some respite, a little bit of calm in the middle of the chaos and family displacement,” describes James.

James said pen and paper become outlets for the children. A way for them to release and process all that they’ve been through.

“It’s a safe space to be able to have your feelings and feelings do come up, they do arise and so that in itself is really therapeutic.” said James.

For the migrant children—it’s therapy through art. But John hopes for everyone else, it’s a chance to have an open mind.

"It’s just not the situation that most people imagine, and I think this is a terrific exhibit for making that clear,” said Warnock.

The exhibit is open until Aug. 31 at the Ward 6 office t 3202 E 1st St, Tucson, AZ 85716. The public can see it during the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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