A small sampling of SVdP’s “Home is Where the Heart is” art show, on display through October at The New Zone Gallery.

Ideally, home is where we are never far from the embrace of those we love most. It’s where we feel closest to complete contentment with our surroundings. And it’s where we weave the protective fabric of family to wear through our lives, just as the walls around us quite literally shield us from dangers of the outside world.

Unfortunately, these are fleeting dreams rather than lasting realities for many of our vulnerable neighbors. Thousands of individuals and their families, struggling with homelessness and poverty, approach St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVdP) every year seeking life-stabilizing help with affordable housing, emergency shelter and meals, employment and more.

Because of their lived experience with homelessness or near-homelessness, these are people who might appreciate, more than most, the old adage “home is where the heart is.” With that in mind, SVdP recently distributed more than 80 free art-supply kits to participants in its various programs and invited them to submit original artworks reflecting that theme.

And now, those inspired creations form the basis for “Home is Where the Heart is,” SVdP’s second-annual art show on display at The New Zone Gallery, 110 E. 11th Ave. in Eugene. The month-long art show is open to the general public, and coincides with the Oct. 7 start of Lane Arts Council’s First Friday ArtWalk.

Raising funds for residents

Through October, The New Zone will feature the art created by participants of all ages across the wide array of SVdP programs — Youth & Family Services, Homeless & Emergency Services, Affordable Housing and others. Some of the original pieces will be available for sale at the gallery, aptly displayed in a variety of picture frames found at Eugene-area St. Vinnie’s thrift stores. Gallery visitors will also be able to purchase quality prints, including small (greeting-card size) reproductions, of many of the designs.

All proceeds from “Home is Where the Heart is” will go toward funding the Resident Services program, which supports all those who live at SVdP’s affordable-housing properties in Lane, Linn and Marion counties. Resident Services Coordinators provide low-income tenant families with referrals, advocacy, individualized guidance, tenancy education, social activities, and various forms of material assistance. These resident supports are all part of SVdP’s overarching effort to help families achieve and maintain stability in their lives, starting with stable housing.

Touching takes on ‘home’

Beyond supporting such an important piece of SVdP’s affordable-housing efforts, the intent of this art show is to highlight the creativity of program participants and honor their voices and experiences as they express what that old saying about home and heart means to them.

The often striking results provide personal glimpses into the artists’ varied life journeys. Some of the artworks include literal visual references to the many forms of shelter and housing assistance SVdP provides — from short-term emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness, to long-term affordable housing in SVdP-managed apartments and manufactured-home parks. Other contributed pieces are more symbolically suggestive or emotionally evocative, and infused alternately with childlike joy and world-wary wisdom.

The beautiful spectrum of expressions on display work together, as if by design, to confirm: “Home is Where the Heart is.”

About the gallery

The New Zone Gallery is located at 110 E 11th Ave., at Oak Street in Eugene. It’s on the ground floor of the Aurora Building, an affordable-housing and mixed-use property owned and managed by SVdP. In May 2021, The New Zone Gallery moved into the storefront that previously housed a St. Vinnie’s thrift store. The New Zone graciously agreed to provide gallery space to showcase “Home is Where the Heart is,” SVdP’s second-annual art show, through the month of October. Gallery hours are noon to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, click the link above or call 541-683-0759.