Subtle chatter fills the corner of Hardy Coffee Co. in the heart of Benson. Two walls in the corner are lined with four pieces of art on each side, totaling eight art pieces. A rap song echoes off the walls as it churns out of the speakers on loop for the “I am More Than…” art show.
Nine total artists from children served in the foster care system, three of whom Nebraska Children’s Home Society serves.
“Going to the street, trying to get his money, trying to feed his family,” rapper Kobe rapped over a mix of flutes and booming bass beats.
The idea of the art show came from NCHS former permanency supervisor Kasey Ripperger around February, taking nine months to come to fruition.
Ripperger formed a relationship with 402 Arts Collective, who agreed to host the art show and provided artist instruction.
“The children were able to work with professional artists and were allowed to explore their creativity throughout the process,” Permanency Coordinator Kim Arkfeld said.
Dozens of people drifted into the art show’s November first unveiling, each internalizing the powerful messages the pieces portrayed.
Underneath most art pieces is a small strip of paper with a message from the artist.
“I am more than my past, I am my future,” 12-year-old Rebecca said in her message.
“I am more than just a kid in foster care. I am grateful and beautiful,” 11-year-old Paityn wrote.
Pieces will be displayed throughout the entire month of November, which happens to be National Adoption Month. The only exception is the rap, but its lyrics are posted on the wall by the other artwork.
“The art show was a way for youth to connect with the audience without themselves being put on display. It brought awareness to the fact there are many youths are waiting for permanency with a family,” Arkfeld said.
Youth who participated are being served by Child Saving Institute, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, PromiseShip and NCHS.
“I am more than just a kid in foster care. I am unique and beautiful,” 12-year-old Kaytlynn said on a slip of paper underneath her artwork. A fox is featured sitting in a meadow surrounded by trees, flowers and a clear blue sky.
Artists understood the purpose was to build awareness for the need for more families interested in providing permanency for a child or children.
“This was a way for those youth to be able to try and help build awareness,” Arkfeld said.
Artists’ ages ranged from eight to 15 years old.
For more information on foster care services, please call 402.659.9996 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.