The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 10, 2009

Feelings through art

Theresa House children speak with drawings

MANKATO — One took it as a chance to tell the world that overcoming the factors that lead to homelessness isn’t as easy as people make it sound — it’s not just as simple as getting off your butt and finding a job.

Another took a chance to announce to the world the part of homelessness she hates the most: picking up everything and relocating. Often.

And another took the project as a chance to show that she refuses to let homelessness get her down. When this child did the project — where homeless children create a small “window” that, when viewed, reveals a glimpse into that child’s homeless life — she focused on hope.

Her design is covered with brightly colored squiggly lines, stars and the words “Sky is the limit.”

“She doesn’t feel held back,” said Rachel Anderson Droogsma, an instructor at Minnesota State University. “She feel she can do anything with her life.”

The window pane projects were done by children who live at the Theresa House Shelter. Droogsma, who teaches a class called Gender Communication, worked with shelter staff on coming up with a project that would let the children express themselves about being homeless.

At the same time, the MSU students in Droogsma’s class got a chance to learn about a segment of the population few get to mingle with.

Droogsma, who is teaching this particular class for the third time, always includes some kind of service learning component. The first two times, students worked with victims of domestic violence and did what is known as the “Clothesline Project,” where victims express themselves through writings on T-shirts, which are then strung along on a clothesline and displayed publicly.

The windows created by the children — who were helped by students from Droogsma’s class — will be hung from the ceiling April 16 in MSU’s Centennial Student Union.

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