The Lost Dreams on Canvas exhibition serves as a centerpiece for “The Art of Peace” anti-violence program that harnesses the power of art. The exhibit travels to schools and community centers as part of on-site programming. Programming offers strategies for students to escape the cycle of violence and learn about creating peace through teacher workshops, student workshops and school assemblies. The program provides at-risk youth the opportunity to talk about violence in their lives and offers strategies for creating peace and using artistic expression to channel negative emotions. Those who view the Lost Dreams on Canvas portraits see someone like themselves and the finality of violence strikes home takes root in their consciousness and makes a difference in their lives.
This powerful and sobering exhibit has reached over 20,000 students each year for the past 20 years. When you witness a group of students stopped to view the paintings, you can almost immediately feel the effect it has upon them. As students, they spent years hearing and reading about the consequences of their actions, and now these portraits humanize what may have previously been simply words.
When violence strikes, when an individual takes another person’s life, there is nothing left but a memory. Here the students see a portrait intended to keep alive another young person’s memory. And it is so wrong, because the face in the portrait should have never become a memory. If only one student remembers just a little of what they see, that one student has a better chance of making his or her world a better place in which to live.