Art From the Ashes


Joy Feuer was in her car, listening to NPR describe the devastation of the 2007 California wildfire epidemic, when she had one of those “A Ha!” moment that changes lives. While listening to a firefighter describe the painful loss of life and property, Joy focused on how healing might begin. Her thoughts moved on to her own creative community, and soon she had brainstormed a truly meaningful art project: she traveled to the site of the fires, gathered materials from the homes and land that had been ruined, and asked artist friends to create art from the ruins, intuitively understanding that art significant to the place and story of the devastation could have transformative power. The sale of the artworks benefited the community affected by the fires, and ART from the Ashes, was born.

Here are is how Joy describes the project on her website : ART from the ashes is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization of independent artists and volunteers who contribute their talent and energy to employ the cathartic properties of art for communities impacted by natural disaster. In the spirit of “Support. Inspire. Create. Renew.” artisans work with reclaimed materials from the site location of the disaster, incorporating them into one of a kind works of art.Twisted metal, wood, glass, ash and found objects become sculptures, paintings, ceramics. Every work of art tells a story and captures the heart of a place in time and history. This body of work becomes the framework of a benefit art exhibition. Proceeds from the sale of art are donated to the affected community to aid in their recovery process. In the wake of devastation and destruction, these works of art symbolize one’s ability to renew, rebuild and persevere.

Since the initial project, which benefited the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Joy has traveled to those places affected by natural disasters and set up similar art projects, and hosted subsequent benefit sales of the art produced. The process is, in her words, ‘art with a different purpose’ that transforms and renews after a disaster.  She’s been particularly interested in working with children whose homes have been ruined – creating art with the kids who have experienced such loss allows them to express feelings that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to put into words. By transforming the ruined material into a creative artifact, she taps into the cathartic aspect of art. ART from the Ashes has worked on projects that benefited the Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund, and recently Joy took her project to support Lost Pines Recovery Team’s restoration efforts for the Lost Pines Region of Bastrop County, TX.

You can see ART from the Ashes in action this Thursday night at the Barnsdale Gallery Theatre as part of Wellness Works – purchase tickets quickly as the event is nearly sold out!

The art exhibition for Wellness Works will showcase artworks created by 32 Los Angeles based artists. Each work of art will incorporate reclaimed materials from the recently demolished automotive/machine shop at Hollywood High School (and three other LAUSD sites); the future site of a new school-based health center.  Participating artistsare donating 100% of their talent. Wellness Works brings together the combined energies of ART from the ashes(AFTA), and two other non-profits,  Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health (LA Trust) and California School Health Centers (CSHC). The LA Trust and CSHC support current and emerging school health centers by promoting school wellness, advocating for improved school health policy and helping communities start-up and sustain school health centers. In the spirit of “Support. Inspire. Create. Renew.”, AFTA will use art as a creative avenue to symbolize transformation and renewal.

The trio of non-profits will move on from the Hollywood High project and continue their partnership of good works. Within the LAUSD there are over 800 schools and 650,000 students. 75% of the students qualify for school lunch and therefore are below poverty level. LAUSD has nearly 40 health centers of which, 14 are being constructed this year as full service community wellness centers in the highest need areas and on the school campuses. This fundraiser will support the three presenting non-profit organizations.