Twice a year, The Anti-Cruelty Society offers an anti-violence after school program for Chicago teens. The program culminates in a Showcase for the youth to present something that they are passionate about. On Thursday December 4th, 17-year-old Agnes Parzygnat from Lincoln Park High School presented a beautiful painting during the Showcase.
The painting depicted a faceless image with a gorgeous flowing mane of vibrant hair. Agnes stood before an auditorium of approximately 50 people and spoke about her inspiration.
Agnes was inspired to create a piece that would speak against suicide. The articulate young woman stated that she had been impacted by suicide during
her freshman year in high school when two of her classmates took their own lives. Agnes saw the aftermath of hurt and pain in her friends and teachers and she told me that she still sees many of them struggle with their loss today. Grief never truly goes away; it merely softens as the survivors learn to cope.
As a result of her experience, Agnes “wanted to bring awareness and resources and ways to help those struggling through it or affected by it. [She] chose to do a painting because [she] loves art and painting, it is the easiest way to show [her] passion for the subject and believe it would get the message across to all those who would see it.”
Her is what Agnes had to say about the imagery in her piece:
The person sitting in the corner represents those who took their lives and the dog on the other [represents] all animals who have been abused and neglected. Through that I wanted to show the link between animal abuse and child abuse. The black background I chose to represent all the awful things that have to do with suicide, such as bullying, and domestic violence. I chose not to cover the person and dog in order to show that those who took their lives and were hurt cannot be forgotten. For the hair I chose bright colors to show happiness and hope and so that when people look at it that is what they see first and [are] hopefully struck by. All the strands are to show the resources and help out there. The hair looks like a lion’s mane to show strength in getting help and giving help. I chose not to paint a face in order to show that it can be anyone and everyone affected by it as well as being someone who can help another in need of help.
Agnes is an extremely intelligent young woman. Expect to see more wonderful things from her future. If a 17-year-old is able to so strongly see the connection between violence in all its forms and is inspired to advocate against violence – that is hope worth sharing.
The Anti-Cruelty Society’s after school program, “Exploring the Link”, is designed to teach youth about the researched and documented connection between animal cruelty and other forms of violence. Teens meet potential mentors, explore caring careers (veterinarian, social worker, humane educator, etc.), and gain self esteem as they learn how to advocate against violence in their communities.
The program is currently accepting teen applicants for the spring semester. Share this link with any interested teens you may know.
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