Painting Hope – “The Art Project, Houston”


On Thursday, December 16, I along with a friend whom I had invited, walked timidly into St. John’s UMC Houston for a painting class, convinced that I did not have a “paintingbone” in my body. I was there for a workshop offered by a program recently envisioned and developed to help the homeless: “The Art Project, Houston.”


When I entered the painting room, I saw not only other clergy and lay people that I knew, but also others I did not, including a number of Houston’s homeless. All of us were there to explore our God-given creative abilities and to paint for a future and a hope for those in our community who find themselves on the streets for whatever reason.


And paint we did! When we were finished, I was astounded at the creative talent displayed in the work of each budding artist, including my own. Saleable artwork covered the room.


Those who chose to do so, took their art home and let their $100 donation contribute toward entering a new future with the homeless. Others left our art and contributed it also toward the project, amazed that we had actually created a painting that could be sold! All of us learned something new about the creative spark within each of us. We had fun, met new brothers and sisters in the family of God, and made a difference. It was a grand afternoon.


How do we as a faith community respond responsibly and creatively to the needs of the homeless population in ways that respect the dignity and worth of each human being as made in the image of God and offer realistic opportunities to help them improve their options? “The Art Project, Houston” is a unique way in which we all can participate.


“The Art Project, Houston” was conceived by Pastor Juanita Rasmus of St. John’s UMC Downtown as a way of empowering individuals living on the street to envision new futures through art and creative expression. Through an ongoing series of workshops, participants learn how to become “ART-trepreneurs,” creating art that they can actually sell.


The art workshops are designed with the following goals:


1) to assist the homeless in finding meaning and purpose in their lives while exploring their creative self


2) help participants make more conscious choices and decisions as they regain power over their lives


3) define and implement life changes


4) get a clearer picture of their creative potential and how to use it


5) deal with creative blocks and negative patterns


6) enrich their relationships with themselves and others through the power of an art based community. (


The project’s ultimate goal is to provide the homeless with an opportunity to make their own trade by creating, displaying and selling their art as a collective body through art exhibits in coffee houses, galleries and other venues around the city. Come join us as we envision and live into a new future for all of God’s children!