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Art helps Phoenix Center youth work through trauma

Marta Stafford Fine Art, 200 Main St. in Marble Falls, is hosting an exhibit called 'Full Circle: Images of Hope and Healing,’ which features mandalas created by youth from the Phoenix Center. The art will hang alongside the work of professionals artists during the July 22-23 show. There also will be a closing reception 6-8 p.m. July 23. Courtesy photo


MARBLE FALLS — When the Phoenix Center youth step into Martha Stafford Fine Art during the “Full Circle: Images of Hope and Healing” art exhibit, they’ll find their works hanging in a unique situation.

“I think this is going to make a huge impact on the kids,” said Sara Garrett, the Phoenix Center executive director. The center provides high-quality, affordable mental health care for children ages 3-18 in the Hill Country who have experienced abuse or other traumatic events. Many of the youth with whom Garrett and her staff work exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“Art therapy and play therapy are age-appropriate therapies that we use as part of our program,” Garrett said.

She said children often don’t have a vocabulary advanced enough to really explain what they’re feeling or going through. But through art and play therapies, the children can work through those emotions and problems in a positive manner.

Since January, the Phoenix Center youth have been creating mandalas as a way of expressing themselves.

Mandalas are artwork in the form of a circle. They are “symbolic of the drive in every person — as a child — toward wholeness, healing and health. Garrett said the mandalas offer the youth a place to share their emotions and thoughts using symbols, art and color.

“Mandalas — or art in a circle — are thought to be very calming,” she said.

Now, the Phoenix Center, Marta Stafford Fine Art and numerous local artists have joined forces to show off the artwork these special kids. One of Garrett’s goals has always been to create an exhibit featuring the youths’ creations. On July 22-23, “Full Circle: Images of Hope and Healing” runs at Marta Stafford Fine Art, 200 Main St. in Marble Falls. There will be a reception 6-8 p.m. July 23.

“We’re really excited about this because our kids’ art will be hanging alongside art created by local artists,” Garrett said. “It’s going to be so meaningful to the kids.”

She held a similar exhibit in Houston many years ago, and when the kids walked in and saw their art hanging on the walls, Garrett said she could see the excitement in their eyes. She hopes the same thing happens at this exhibit as well.

Along with the exhibit, a grant is allowing the Phoenix Center to create a book of the exhibition that includes each of the child’s works. And each youth will get a copy.

“I think this will be wonderful — empowering and powerful,” Garrett said.

The public is invited to the exhibit on both days as well as the reception July 23. There also will be a silent art auction during the exhibit that closes during the reception. Go to for more information on the exhibit or the Phoenix Center.