Student work from the Iowa Juvenile Home
September 1 - October 19, 2007
Trauma Reflected through Art is a traveling show created by students at the Iowa Juvenile Home (IJH) in Toledo, Iowa. The IJH is the state training school for delinquent girls and also serves some boys and girls who are victims of abuse and/or neglect. The children, ages 12 - 17, come from all over the state of Iowa. All are wards of the state. Most qualify for special education, with the most common disability being behavior disorder. The institution offers a year-round school program at the Herbert Hoover School on campus. School and residential programming follow a model called Circle of Courage, a program of positive behavioral support which stresses mastery, belonging, generosity and independence at skills which must be learned in order to become a successful adult. As part of this program, students participate in an art therapy program and often produce work with genuine artistic merit. The IJH Foundation, with a grant from Alliant Energy, is sponsoring the art show which travels to several cities in Iowa each year. Names or photographs of participants in the show have not been made public without their prior permission and that of their parents or guardians.
The show contains about 30 works of art produced in the therapeutic art program. Each work is accompanied by labels that offer insight into art therapy practices. Some labels also include quotes from the student-artists. Most students at IJH have had trouble finding acceptable ways to express themselves in their communities, often lashing out with anger, violence and other criminal behavior. Their repression of negative emotions and efforts to evade aroused anxieties have led to one or more subconscious, destructive urges, including rage and aggression, suicidal ideation, sexual promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, learned helplessness, and self mutilation. The art program offers the students a way to express deep feelings without getting into trouble. The show is intended to showcase the students’ artistic talents, demonstrate the effectiveness of art therapy as a rehabilitative intervention, and educate the public about the Iowa Juvenile Home.