STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
Every person can make a difference and art can help people heal. Those two beliefs come together in The ARTsisters Group Benefit Show at the Main Line Art Center (MLAC). The display features recent works by the group’s members and also raises funds, as all ARTsisters shows do, for a non-profit organization. This show benefits the New Day Women’s Drop-In Center, which provides holistic help — meals, a shower, care, safe space, and a way out — to women who are exploited by the commercial sex trade and trafficked for sex.
The exhibit, curated by MLAC executive director Amie Potsic, features a few creations by ARTsisters founder Linda Dubin Garfield. Her mixed media works in the show are reflections on a trip she took to the Amazon River.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “Everything revolves around the river. The area is lush, very colorful, and beautiful.”
She was fascinated by some of the villages she saw, where the houses were on stilts and had only holes shaped where doors and windows would be.
“That really struck me,” she said. “It was so open and so not private. It’s so different from the way we live here. Inside and outside were blended much more than in our culture.”
Garfield’s travels inspire a lot of her work as a full-time professional artist. She began her art career when she retired in 2002 from being a guidance counselor. Finding camaraderie and creating ARTsisters was just icing on the cake.
When Garfield learned more about human trafficking, she wanted to help a charity involved with that issue.
“It was shocking to me that it can be in our neighborhood,” she said. “But it’s right here.”
ARTsister Monique Kendikian-Sarkessian, of Malvern, was shocked when she learned about the issue a while back. Her first thought was “I thought slavery was abolished a long time ago,” she said. “When I hear about [trafficking], it makes my brain freeze up.”
She wanted to support this cause so she’s grateful to be involved with this show. Her included works are from her “Where Your Glory Dwells” series. Most of the series is tree-based, she said, and inspired by her plein air work.
“I’m inspired by nature, the variety and lushness that occur,” she said. “This divine creation has unlimited variety beyond human comprehension.”
Kendikian-Sarkessian has been painting since she was a child, knowing at age four that she wanted to focus on art. At the time, she didn’t know why, but “I know what drives me now — color,” she said. “I love the way it feels when you put it down, what you’re able to translate with it.”
What drove her to join ARTsisters, which has a juried application process, was the idea of connecting with other artists.
“The goal is to be supportive and it’s nice to do shows together,” she said. “It’s such a strong group of women.”
And also, she appreciates that the group always gives money to charity. She feels so strongly about this particular issue that she’s donating 100 percent of anything she sells during the show to the cause. If people want to buy something, that’s great, she said, but even just seeing the show is a help.
“Give the show visibility and tell friends,” she said. “The more we get the word out about this problem, which is not an easy problem to face — there are things people can do to help. Just bringing awareness is important.”
Garfield agreed and hopes that people enjoy the show and learn about the issue at the same time.
“Mostly young women, but some men, too, are leading devastating lives. It’s hard to sleep when you think about that,” she said. “It could be somebody right around the corner from you.”
Garfield, who always donates 20 percent of anything she sells to charity (in ARTsisters or other shows), appreciates the support of the group.
“We share our knowledge and our experience,” she said. “It’s been invaluable and changed my life.”
Knowing how art and support changed her life, Garfield, along with the rest of the ARTsisters, then hope that their art can help to change the lives of others, too.
IF YOU GO
What: ARTsisters Group Benefit Show benefitting New Day Women’s Drop-In Center
When: June 19 through July 20. Reception 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 23
Where: Main Line Art Center, 746 Panmure Road, Haverford.
Info.: Call (610) 525-0272 or visit www.mainlineart.org.