You Create A World That Ensures Access To Art
#EndHomelessness #ArtJustice #ArtMatters #ArtIsMedicine
On October 25th and 26th, AHCH ArtStreet Studio Assistant Alina Pozas hosted a Mask Making Workshop. Seven participants completed the workshop with mythical and ornate masks for an upcoming ArtStreet exhibition at the Harwood Art Center in January 2022. Both days of the workshop provided participants with opportunities to workshop materials like papier-Mache, mesh wire, glue, and found objects. Alina guided participants to explore form and dimension, symbolism, identity, and imagination.
Wanting to share more with you, we caught up with Alina to discuss art and how a curriculum like the mask making workshops are enriching artists who are experiencing homelessness, and her personal art projects in the community.
AHCH: What attracted you, or most excited you to work at AHCH and it’s ArtStreet Program?
ALINA: “5 or 6 years ago, I actually applied for the same position and I was about 19, with very limited experience, but I have always known I wanted to do something in the arts. I am an artist through and through, and if I didn’t do something in the arts, I would wither away. As much as I love art, I really really love the people and I’ve always been interested in people’s story….It’s always been a philosophy of mine to learn their stories…I decided to apply arts in a more humanitarian way. I am currently studying art education because I want to create a world that is accessible to art. I want art to be accessible to everyone. Art is an intrinsic need for everyone and you need to treat it that way. So I believe everyone has the right to make art. So if I can be in a space where I can facilitate that and really practice my philosophies, that is a really special thing for me. ArtStreet was the perfect combination of working while working in a space that is being artistic and creative while being intimate. Art is a very intimate thing.”
AHCH: Considering your entire time with AHCH and as a Studio Assistant, what makes you most alive, most involved, or most excited?
ALINA: “Definitely the people and the clients. Like I get to see the clients and they are so amazing. I get to see the most dedicated and creative people. When the client’s say: ‘Hey look at what I made,’ that gets me so excited. I get to learn about people’s processes and how they approach art and how they use a medium. They teach me more about art than I teach them. ArtStreet is an awesome space where we get to share our skills and vision. It really makes me feel alive when they get to share their art with me.”
AHCH: How has working alongside other artists and people experiencing homelessness changed your perspective/view on art?
ALINA: “I feel like more so than change, affirmed on my beliefs I already had about art. As much as homelessness can impact someone’s perspective on life, and how they carry themselves, in their state of mind, state of being, the root of it all is they are still a person. So I approach client’s in that way. Remaining open to others’ art has helped me open up to my own creative process. I feel less rigid and less critical about my own work”
AHCH: Is there anything else about your work with ArtStreet and its artists or AHCH and its staff that you would like our followers to know?
ALINA: “Art is for everyone. You are welcome in this space. The ArtStreet studio is a liberating
space. It doesn’t have the bureaucracy like most social services have. It’s invigorating and refreshing.
I get a lot of people who are seeking services for other social services, medical insurance, and much more
and its nice to have a team at the Resource Center that will come to the client at ArtStreet and get them
what they need.”
AHCH: Can you tell us about any upcoming or recent shows for your personal art or work?
ALINA: “Collaborated with a local writer and a graphic artist to produce a zine titled: “Cruising Central.” It’s really awesome. I produced most of the artwork for the project. We supported the writer, and they told their story about their experiences with sex work. The writer writes about the systems that criminalize sex work and sex workers, human trafficking, and writes to change the narrative- it’s an empathetic piece about approaching sex work. It was an exciting project to be part of. It brought community together and it created a dialogue about a social issue. The zine also talks about the women of the west mesa murders, and it touches on why people should not forget their names. We have been selling the zines and we have been donating the proceeds to a local nonprofit that helps women who are survivors of domestic abuse and sex workers. I love what this project is doing for women.”
Artists are required to wear masks, social distance, and wash hands frequently during program hours.
Open Studio: Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Art Therapy at Westside Emergency Housing Center: Mondays from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Closed Therapy Groups: Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
ArtStreet gives community artists – homeless and housed – a common forum to share their experiences, coming together to make art. One component of the ArtStreet program is a community based open art studio. ArtStreet brings together people from diverse backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, and artistic abilities to share common experiences by making art in a safe and supportive environment. Historically, ArtStreet serves approximately 1,000 unduplicated artists annually.
Follow AHCH on social media @abqhch or visit abqhch.org.