The 5th Annual Gándara Youth Art Exhibit, ArtSong, hosted a gallery reception and silent auction on June 7 at the former federal building, 1550 Main Street in Springfield. The family-friendly event featured youth paintings and live music performances.

Youth artists in the ArtSong Arts Enrichment Program spent months working on their pieces as a part of their art therapy. Of the 65 pieces on display, created by youth ages 3 through 17 years, more than 10 Gándara Center residential DCF programs were represented at the show.

Attendees were able to bid on all artwork on display. Event proceeds from the auction and t-shirts designed by one of the artists will directly support young artists by providing supplies to help sustain this unfunded art therapy program.

“It’s so inspiring to see what the youth created—not only for me, but also for the artists,” said Amy Porchelli, founder/director of ArtSong. “They really enjoyed the process of making art and they got a true sense of accomplishment because they saw what they could do for the community as artists.”

The ArtSong program gives the youth a place to say how they feel and what they believe, according to Porchelli. “Most therapy is focused on the individual, but this program is a peer environment, which allows them to have fun, build their confidence, and creates a lot of dialogue. It’s a very therapeutic experience,” she said.

Porchelli said some of the artists were new to the program and there were some who have been in it for quite a while and came to the reception to perform music they had developed and recorded at the Gándara Center’s Holyoke Youth Development Center media lab studio. “I’m really excited about that,” she said. “I think it shows a comfort level about being a part of this amazing enrichment program. They want to be heard. I think that ties in nicely with this year’s exhibit theme: ‘Voices of Legacy-Youth United.’ They are creating their own legacy.”

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