CASA GRANDE -- After noticing a lack of art on the walls of an area shelter, a group of teens decided to take action, creating more than a dozen paintings that they then donated to Against Abuse Inc.

Each inspirational painting celebrates women and motherhood.

“Art has a way of touching all of us at our very core,” said Against Abuse Deputy Director Maria-Elena Ochoa. “These talented young artists have created artistic pieces that are both beautiful and truly inspirational. It is incredible how their gift of expression has actually caused an uplifting shift in the shelter environment, promoting healing and resiliency from domestic violence and trauma through art.”

Fifteen area student artists with the Casa Grande Youth Alliance spent more than 200 hours over the course of three months to paint the pieces for the art collection, which aims to give strength and inspiration to Against Abuse clients.

Creating the art was a collaborative project between the Casa Grande Youth Alliance, the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate program and Casa Grande Daybreak Rotary Club, said Casa Grande Alliance Executive Director Bob Shogren.

“It was quite remarkable how the youth came together to create the pieces over the past three months. So much thought and care was put into each project,” he said.

Canvases and painting supplies were purchased with a grant the Rotary Club obtained through Rotary District 5500 funding, Shogren said.

The students presented the artwork to Against Abuse on Friday. Many of the pieces will hang in Against Abuse shelters.

“We are grateful to receive such beautiful pieces of artwork from the amazing young people who created these powerful works of art,” said Against Abuse Shelter Director Rene Carter. “Just by looking at them, you can feel the emotion and the care that the artist put into every piece they made. They are very personal.”

Students with the Casa Grande Youth Alliance had the idea to create the art after doing a Martin Luther King Jr. Day project at an area shelter.

“One of the youth noticed that the walls of the center were mostly absent of art. The Youth Alliance discussed the project and decided that it would be great if we could create inspirational artwork that celebrates women and motherhood,” Shogren said.

Against Abuse is a nonprofit organization that provides social services in Pinal County and works to help people and the community better understand the nature and effects of family violence. The organization offers crisis counseling, supervised visitation and safe child exchange services, an animal safe home network and shelters for women and children impacted by domestic violence.

Upon seeing the artwork, one Against Abuse shelter resident said she saw “strength, hope, sisterhood, joy, empowerment, love and beauty” in each piece, Ochoa said.

The purpose of the Casa Grande Youth Alliance is to mobilize area young people to be informed of and respond to the challenges and needs of the community.

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.