The Heart Gallery, a Stark County Jobs and Family Services’ project, will be displayed at the Canton Museum of Art for the next few weeks. The art exhibition pairs local artists with children waiting to be adopted from foster care. The series of portraits will be displayed to bring attention to the need for adoptive families in the community.
According to Stark JFS, Stark County currently has 500 children living in the foster care system. Nearly a quarter of these youth are in permanent custody and eligible for adoption. This project began in 2010 in collaboration with Adoption Awareness Month. The community is invited to learn about some of these remarkable young people and opportunities for adoption through the Heart Gallery display.
Jerry Coleman, the executive director of Stark County Job & Family Service told Good Morning Cleveland,
“Each year, children who are waiting to be adopted are paired with the artist and meet with them or provide pictures to give us detailed personality profiles of them so they can be posted online and create this artwork.”
This year’s exhibition features twelve youth portrayed by nine artists. The community is invited to view the artwork and learn more about foster care and adoption in Stark County.
Portraits on display will include:
Abagail, by Alaska Thompson. Abagail is a teenager who enjoys school, especially math class. Some of her favorite activities include swimming, watching movies, and going for walks.
Ahna, by Madison Miller. Ahna is a five-year-old whose favorite colors are pink and purple. She enjoys playing outside, eating macaroni and cheese, and snacking on candy.y
Alexander and Jaramiah, by Kat Francis. Alexander and Jaramiah are brothers who have a lot in common – they both like basketball, superheroes, and math class. They also both agree that families should do fun activities together, like shop at Five Below, travel to Disney World, and go out for dinner.
Brendon, by Alexa Polinori. Brendon describes himself with two words: awesome and smart. His favorite activities are swimming, running, and swinging at the playground.
Coltyn, by Kaley Weaver. Coltyn enjoys driving his remote-controlled car, building Legos, and playing board games, especially Uno. When he thinks about family, he imagines people who love and care about each other.
Hayli, by David Sherrill. Hayli is a talkative and outgoing preteen. She loves fashion, playing soccer, watching Stranger Things, and performing TikTok dances.
Isaac, by Heather Bullach. Isaac is a teenager who likes to have fun and make people laugh. He enjoys watching and playing sports, especially football.
Jennifer and Jamespeter, by Tim Carmany. Jennifer is interested in writing, singing, and dancing. She has participated in school plays and plans to write her own book. Jamespeter likes to play football and basketball. His favorite subject in school is Science.
Kylie, by William Keomany. Kylie is a two-year-old with special needs. Her smiles are contagious and when she laughs, she kicks her legs into the air like a dancer. Kylie loves Minnie Mouse, dogs,
Lexianna, by Alaska Thompson. Lexianna loves to read fantasy fiction and watch movies on the Disney channel. She is interested in the arts and enjoys drawing, writing stories, and singing.
Get to Know These Kids; Learn About the Possibilities of Adoption
Stark JFS hopes that learning about the children in need of adoption may prompt community members to want to know more about how to become an adoptive parent.
Coleman added, “If you’ve ever had the desire or the thought or just an interest in learning more about adoption and foster care, please reach out to us and we will be able to provide you with any information you need,” Coleman said.
The State of Ohio offers additional information on foster, adoption and kinship care on its website.
After its stay at the Canton Museum of Art, The Heart Gallery will travel to The Little Art Gallery at the North Canton Public Library from Dec. 15 to Jan 2. and Massillon Museum from Jan. 9 to Feb. 11.