How Did This Happen?
One day I was talking to a friend, who was the former Director of Pathways to Housing. She was lamenting how folks moving into new homes need art to really make it feel like a home. A day or so later, another friend asked me to teach them to paint, or at least to get them started. At the same time, I was reading from one of my favorite authors, Robert Fulghum and recalled how he noted that everyone in kindergarten can paint, and dance and sing, but by the time they get to college, they have been somehow boxed in and only those with extraordinary gifts are in art, or dance or music believe they have the creative ability to take on the task.
And then, it all came together for me. What if we could gather people together, even people who had never painted, and gave them the proper tools, some encouragement, instruction, and guidance, and then let them loose to create Art? I saw several discount coupons for wine and painting events, and people were paying to attend. Why not apply the model, but give the paintings as housewarming gifts to others?
Everyone seems to win here. People painting get to experience a creative art session not usually available for a reasonable fee, Pathways displays the art in its offices and allows clients to choose something they like for their homes, and the art starts conversations and breaks the ice between the staff and the clients. There is pure joy and fun for the artists who paint during the sessions. We play music, enjoy food and drink, chat, and create art. This is a good time, and there is no real age limit beyond the attention span to start and finish a painting. Our youngest painter so far has been 6-years old and our oldest - well, let us say seventy something is the new fifty something.
About the Artists
I received my Art Degree from Mercyhurst University and worked as a designer for many years in the DC area, primarily in the publishing industry. My first love however, is for painting. My paintings have been shown in galleries in the area including the Torpedo Factory, and I have sold paintings near my home town in Pennsylvania for many years.
After studying fine arts for a number of years, I took the practical route and received a BFA in Graphic Design from the Corcoran School of Art. The days of painting and sculpture still resonate with me, and I find creating art and crafts to be energizing and a lot of fun. My primary medium these days is fabric, which encompasses my love of pattern, color, and utility. But honestly, putting paint on canvas is really just a great way to spend time.
It Takes a Village
Jamie Samilio and several artist friends -- chiefly, Maude Hales -- who have a passion for art and a love of painting decided to take a chance. The sessions would also not be nearly as successful without the support of Sylvia Saliunas and her gift of hospitality. Art and Soul would not have happened without the support of several parishes that have sponsored us by giving space. Church of the Holy Cross, Dunn Loring, VA took the first great leap of faith, becoming our initial sponsor. Holy Cross continues to be the main location for workshops. We offer special thanks to Church of the Ascension, Lexington Park and St. Luke's, Alexandria,VA for hosting workshops and raising awareness in their communities about the good work Pathways to Housing is doing to end homelessness.
What makes Art and Soul really work however, are the people who come together for fellowship and fun, create a painting, and then give that painting as a gift to someone else. We want to say thank you to everyone who has helped out in the sessions and those who have painted.
The photos shown here were taken during Art and Soul painting sessions.
Opportunity is Knocking!
For more information or to host or sponsor a session, please email Jamie Samilio.