Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Fine Arts (Integrated Arts and Education)

Department or School/College

Creative Pulse Program

Committee Chair

Randy Bolton


Art and community, art with alternative populations, art with people who are homeless, spirituality and art


University of Montana


Within mainstream culture exists an accepted protocol by which most people function in daily life. The majority of the population has a standard way of life without much detour to other possibilities. Sometimes this canonical does not seem quite right. The potential detour then becomes increasingly difficult to ignore because a disconnect of community runs rampant in the corners of our culture. My intuition regarding a way to live differently coupled with a spiritual connection and life-purpose, has caused me to take action in unexpected ways resulting in outcomes of revelation. In pursuit ways to re-connect to the significance of community, an exploration of my personal role and the role of art became a crucial starting block. I strive to use art to re-build community in places of disadvantage, lifestyles of mishap, and with people who carry wheelbarrows full of pain and life-experience. My spiritual awareness and deliberation to pursue this vision initially led me to the idea of teaching art in a homeless shelter in Missoula, Montana. My life goal and passion is to dive into the endless possibilities of art as a way to form unique bonds and life-growth with people in alternative populations. An indispensable aspect of my vision is my personal connection to the presence of God in my life. This connection is what ignited me to search, listen and follow the ideas that felt intentionally and divinely placed into my heart. As my experience working with art and people who are homeless increased, so did my awareness to a greater purpose behind the circumstances in our lives. The significance of this notion cannot be omitted from the written exploration of my project without a misrepresentation of what truly happened to me in this journey. The stories from my students who are homeless and the experience of utilizing my own artwork to financially support their efforts continues to inspire my life work. I am excited to pursue unknown circumstances with a perspective that life is divinely designed and the significance of human connections reaches a precious depth beyond our normal pattern of perceiving our world.



© Copyright 2009 Tara Lynn Smith