How the James House Art Hive is making a difference in the lives of those who experience homelessness

The group has a bi-monthly table at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Flea Market to showcase and sell the artists’ work with the next one on May 29

By Krista Sylvester | May 16, 2022 |5:00 am

Cora Dustyhorn was a dedicated participant at the Art Hive for eight months, producing beautiful work including a small teepee sculpture, as well as several mosaic glass pieces and paintings.

Photo: Submitted

Inspired, proud, and motivated. 

That’s how Cora Dustyhorn described her experience with the James House Art Hive program. James House is a 27-unit apartment building built by the HomeSpace Society in Hillhurst. 

Adults at risk of homelessness are provided an affordable apartment with support from McMan Youth, Family & Community Services. 

It’s there where an expressive art program run by community art facilitator Wendy Lees is helping make a difference in the lives of those who have experienced homelessness, including Dustyhorn, who was a resident at James House until about three months ago. 

Dustyhorn was a dedicated participant at the Art Hive for eight months, producing beautiful work including a small teepee sculpture, as well as several mosaic glass pieces and paintings, many of which she has sold either through the Art Hive or at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Flea Market where the group has a bi-monthly table.

“I got inspired. Really inspired,” she says, adding the program motivated her to tap into her artistic side. “I feel like it motivates you.” 

Dustyhorn likes to work with mosaic glass and plans to keep being artistic. 

On an artistic mission 

It’s all part of the mission statement, Lees says. 

“The James Art Hive exists to provide impactful creative programming with Calgary’s homeless population to foster healthy connections to self in the community,” Lees explains, adding it’s a united community effort that makes the program possible with McMan providing the funding. 

James House provides bridge housing for people experiencing homelessness and residents can live at the house for up to 10 months. They’re provided various programs and support, including the optional art program coordinated by Lees.

“It’s a very welcoming space with beautiful natural light from windows… and all of the supplies available for people to use, which have been donated,” Lees says of the program. 

“They can just come in and create whatever they like.” 

Some of the artists, such as Dustyhorn, work with mosaics and glass while others prefer other mediums such as leatherwork, woodcarving, or painting. 

“I do everything I can do to support them to do whichever particular creative expression they want,” she adds. 

Showcasing their work 

Another great feature of the program is the artists get to show and sell their work at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Flea Market every second Sunday. The next event is Sunday, May 29.  

“I think it’s crucial for artists to have their work seen by a broader audience,” Lees says, pointing to an art show last month where artists got to showcase their work and get feedback. 

“I can tell them how wonderful their work is all the time … but to have the public give their feedback was very empowering for people.”

Calgarians can visit the James House tenant table at the Hillhurst Sunnyside Flea Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday. 

“It’s a wonderful way for the artists to ongoingly showcase and sell their work,” Lees adds. 

 

Krista Sylvester

Managing Editor at Calgary Citizen

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