Using Art To Heal At The Lotus House | NBC 6 South Florida

Using Art To Heal At The Lotus House

Artist and teacher Antonia Wright has been working with residents at the Overtown shelter the last 3 weeks

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    Former drug addict Mary Risenberg says she has found new confidence and happiness in art, creative writing and music classes at the Lotus House in Overtown, where artist and teacher Antonia Wright has been living over the last three weeks. (Published Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015)

    Mary Risenberg takes refuge in photography.

    She used to find escape in drugs. The former addict is one of 100 women and children living at the Lotus House in Overtown, a transitional home for the homeless.

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    "I'm clean, and I've been doing really good," Risenberg said of her three-week stay.

    She credits her new confidence and happiness to art, creative writing and music classes, and workshops at the shelter.

    "It's like therapy for me, it kinda keeps our minds off of things, makes us focus on the better things," she said.

    Artist and teacher Antonia Wright has been living at the shelter for the last three weeks. She provides disposable cameras, painting supplies and notebooks to help teach the women to see past their troubled pasts.

    "Art has the ability to heal and to help you learn about yourself," Wright said.

    She says her stay has been a lesson in empathy.

    "I already see the world completely different. I think I'll take less things for granted and interact with everybody from a place of compassion," she added.

    She calls 26-year-old resident Francine Dawkins her friend.

    "She showed me that art isn't just drawing. It's not just physically putting things on paper," Dawkins said.

    Dawkins showed off a collection of photographs she took around downtown Miami.

    Wright's latest collaborative project is a video showing the women's feet, often carrying the weight of the world, lifted up against the sun.

    "In the video the women look light and free. I like the idea that wherever they go in the world they're always standing on the sun, they always have this internal power," Wright said.

    The final version of the video art project will be shown in October at the Art Live Fair in Miami. It's the annual fundraiser for the Lotus House.