How can I describe how survival on the streets is for someone who has never experienced this ordeal before? Life on the streets of Houston was literally Hell! No family to turn to, no friends to depend on, no knowledge of where anything is that will give you can get a HAND-UP and not a HAND-OUT.
Everyday waking up to try to find some form of work to care for yourself while at the same time trying to find a secure place to hide your belongings, only to come back after spending all day searching for work to discover that your things were stolen by some other person who has a drug or alcohol addiction. My things were stolen on three different occasions since I’ve been on the streets, including having my identification & work credentials stolen the very first time my things were taken. This is what caused me to be on the streets for so long.
Even through all of that turmoil I’d have to say that the worst experience of life on the streets were the winter months. Having to sleep under bridges, in parks, or in the doorway of some building when it is cold or raining or both is the worst feeling ever. Even worst is to have someone who has a nice warm house to go to every night tell you, “don’t give up, it’s going to get better” yet they do nothing to help ease your condition. Its like being on fire and someone standing there with a bucket of water but not throwing it on you to dowse the flames.
I came upon the Bread of Life a few days after I first became homeless, and met Pastor Lanecia during one of the After Dark Art programs she was teaching that day. It was an art contest to paint something using the theme “HOPE”. I’d never held a paintbrush in my hand to create anything until that day and really didn’t want to participate, but she encouraged me to do so.
I ended up winning the contest with a painting that I titled “My Dad’s Not Missing”, and sold the painting at an art exhibit a few weeks later. That experience ignited a desire to create and I’ve since sold numerous paintings at other exhibits that Pastor Lanecia has taken me to.
The Art Project, Houston was the stepping stone that I was searching for to help me get my life back on track. It gave me a safe and constructive way to vent the stresses and frustrations that life was weighing on my shoulders without me doing anything illegal that would get me into trouble with the law. Through The Art Project, Houston I was able to meet a number of influential people including, but not limited to, Reginald Adams (an artist and Co-Founder of the Museum Of Cultural Arts, Houston).
I have since gotten a job working at the Port of Houston as a roustabout, and an apartment on Houston’s Southeast side. I can honestly say that none of this would have been possible without my experiences and opportunities through TAPH. This is why it is very important for programs such as TAPH to continue to thrive. Because for every 3 people you run into on these streets full of games, there is one who is sincerely striving to make a way to live a better life…and that one is worth all the effort!
When did you realize you were an artist?
I’ve been drawing with pencil since my youth, but I never realized I was a painter until Pastor Lanecia put a paintbrush in my hand.
Who or what inspires you? What motivates you to create?
I look at things as I go throughout my day and something gives me ideas about what to paint or create.
Why did you decide to partner with The Art Project, Houston?
The reason was twofold. It gave me a positive outlet to vent, and helped me out financially in a time when I really needed it.
What is the coolest art project you have worked on with TAPH?
That’s a tough one, because there are actually two projects that stand out to me. Working with TAPH & M.O.C.A.H. at the Starbucks convention last September, and working on the Mural project for the side of the Bread Of Life, again with M.O.C.A.H.