Homeless Artists Create MST Mosaic With H'Art
October 17, 2011
Carmel artist Michael Ball has made his fair share of work in the past decade, but he says last week's unveiling at the Salinas Transit Center of a mosaic he helped create with homeless artists from Interim, Inc.'s Breakthrough H'Art program is his most meaningful project to date.
"I loved seeing everyone claim their part of the project, and themselves within the work," says Ball, himself a former client at Interim, a nonprofit providing housing and support services for people with mental illness. "To see people saying, 'This is mine, I want to do it'...It was beautiful."
The three-months-in-the-making mosaic, depicting a Monterey-Salinas Transit bus wending its way past Salinas Valley fields is the most recent project of Breakthrough H'Art, which uses collaborative art projects to promote healing and recovery from mental illness.
Program participants, working in the @Risk gallery space in Salinas's Chinatown, have also completed a mosaic for nearby Sunflower Gardens and at Interim's Shelter Cove facility in Marina. Next up, if all goes according to plan, is a Wave Street building in New Monterey, according to Interim's Development Director Susan Alnes.
"Michael [Ball] has been the energy and spirit around Breakthrough H'Art, and sharing the importance of art as a vehicle to explore yourself and build community," Alnes says.
Ball's commitment to the program comes not just from his passion for creative expression. He also struggled for years with bipolar and schizoaffective disorders before finding his way into Interim's MCHOME program, a collaboration with the county's Behavioral Health Division that moves homeless adults into supportive housing and connects them to medical services.
He credits MCHOME with helping him find success as an artist—he's now the head of the Breakthrough H'Art program—and cope with the societal stigma of mental illness. He sees his fellow mosaic artists undergoing a similar transformation.
"These mosaics are a vehicle for empowerment," Ball says. "People can look at mosaics and say, wow, 'those people' did that?" He thinks the newest mosaic's location at a transit center has value beyond its high visibility.
"There's a piece of the community in all the buses we take," Ball says. "We're all coming to the same place, even though we're from different walks of life."
To donate art supplies—picture frames, paints, canvases, beads, sketch pads and more—to Breakthrough H'Art, call 831.649.4522.*