FORT WAYNE — Twelve Fort Wayne-area artists will be paired with graduates from the Blue Jacket Career Academy program and their work will be displayed at the fourth annual Second Chances Art Exhibit, which opens May 18 from 6-9 p.m. at the University of Saint Francis at the Ian and Mimi Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center.
This unique fundraiser has a goal to exhibit real stories of the trials, failures and successes of Blue Jacket clients and how they are overcoming their barriers to employment and in life. These stories are told through a variety of mediums and will be featured at USF through May 30.
“I love taking people’s ideas and stories and creating custom works of art with them,” said Jordan Kurzen, a local artist. “My client has an amazing hopeful face and I can’t wait to do, hopefully, his story justice. To take that hope, in his story and put it onto paper and see what comes of it.”
The Second Chances Art Exhibit and Fundraiser is a collaboration between USF and Blue Jacket Inc, 2826 South Calhoun St. Artists from the Fort Wayne area were paired with Blue Jacket graduates to create artwork to tell the graduate’s stories of triumph.
For Blue Jacket graduate Michael Carew, his was a success story that needed to be told. “I’m hoping these art pieces will give hope to people to never give up, to continue to fight for a better life,” he said.
Carew graduated from the Career Academy in 2014.
“I’m just excited about the opportunity to share my story, present my story to other people to give them a chance to understand that you can come from a bad place, to a better place.”
Blue Jacket made an impact in the life of 2008 graduate Jennifer Crickmore as well.
“People are getting to know Blue Jacket and its mission,” said Crickmore, who knows from previous-years what this annual event means to the people involved.
“Yes it’s a fundraiser, but it’s more than that. It’s a great way to connect the community with a very important organization. Blue Jacket is very important in our community. This art exhibit is very important. And I’m just honored to be a part of it.”
The fundraiser helps to fund the Blue Jacket Career Academy, a two-week, 40-hour training program in which Blue Jacket provides job-readiness training to those with barriers to employment. Following graduation from the program, Blue Jacket provides transitional jobs, job placement, and pre- and post-placement services including education, skills and interest assessments, and personal and professional development.
For more information on the organization, visit Blue Jacket’s website at bluejacketinc.org. For information on the upcoming exhibit, follow the Blue Jacket Facebook page.