News

A voice of their own: Shelter clients creatively collaborate with artists

Cheri Veilleux, a featured artist in LSA's Creativity Collaborative, shows her hand-made jewelry to state Sen. Brendan Crighton. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Cheri Veilleux said “bad karma” reduced her options to living in Lynn Shelter, but she hopes her love for jewelry making will lead her to small business success and independence.

Veilleux is participating in Creativity Collaborative, a partnership between Lynn Shelter Association and artists who help shelter clients express themselves, relax, and explore potential entrepreneurship opportunities through art.

Since she started making jewelry four years ago while helping out at a Salem psychic fair, Veilleux has created more than 100 jewelry pieces and sold several creations under the business name Jewelry by Cheri.

Her work incorporates small beads and pieces of glass strung to create necklaces imbued with an airy delicacy.

“It relaxes me, and when I do special orders I know it means something to people,” she said.

Veilleux was one of several homeless artists whose work was on display in the City Hall foyer Tuesday morning. She displayed her jewelry on a small table while paintings, decorative rocks and other art were featured on other tables and wall displays.

Mayor Thomas M. McGee browsed the displays with state Sen. Brendan Crighton, City Councilor at Large Brian LaPierre and other guests, and said Creativity Collaborative reflects Lynn in the same positive light as the Beyond Walls murals.

“There’s an increased potential for jobs related to this. I look forward to seeing Creativity Collaborative’s continued success,” McGee said.

Shelter Executive Director Mark Evans said Creativity Collaborative grew out of workshops launched a year ago to engage shelter clients in talking about themselves.

The workshops expanded into art therapy sessions with Lynn resident, artist and therapist Alison Miller, who has worked for almost nine months with an average of 14 shelter clients every week.

Miller said art therapy relaxes shelter residents facing the stress of homelessness and other challenges that are part of their stories. She said art also helps clients “let their guard down and tell their story.”

“There’s no pressure to do it right. It’s remarkable to see people living on the street articulate themselves,” said Miller.

Evans said creations by Veilleux and other artists display grace and strength and a perseverance that could help channel creativity into income-making opportunities.

Veilleux, a Danvers native and mother of an 11- and 19-year-old, said her next step is to get a home of her own and “proceed with my business.”

 

More Stories From Lynn