Dallas Love Field showcases art of juvenile offenders

By Daisy Silos | DFW Newsflash | September 2017

Hanging on display at the Art Travelers Art Gallery at the Dallas Love Field Airport are more than 100 pieces of work created by young people incarcerated in Dallas County Juvenile Detention. Everything from abstract art to water colors and self-portraits are featured in the exhibition called, “All I See is Beauty.” Love Field partnered with the Dallas County Juvenile Department to showcase the talent of its students.

“Oftentimes kids in juvenile are judged by what they’ve done. This tells the story of I’m not what I’ve done and I’ve got great talent,” program coordinator for Dallas County Juvenile Department Cynthia Wallace said. “Often they just didn’t know they could do it, so partnering with Love Field gave us an opportunity to showcase their works.”

The exhibit took a little over a year to coordinate. In 2016, the director of the Juvenile department Dr. Terry Smith spoke with the art and program coordinator for Dallas Love Field Airport Guy Bruggeman about the juvenile art program. Unfortunately, the 2016 art exhibition calendar was full, and Smith thought she might never hear back. Then in early 2017, Bruggeman reached out to the county juvenile facility and booked the exhibition.

“This is one of the more unique exhibitions that we have. Most of the time we work with educational institutions like Dallas ISD, colleges and universities around the area, but to actually work with the juvenile county court system with their students and people who are offenders is a little bit of a different exhibition,” Bruggeman said. “The talent is still there regardless if they’re in juvenile lock up or if they’re in the Dallas ISD system. The talent is there, they just need to be able to showcase and express themselves.”

The title of the exhibit, “All I See is Beauty,” serves as a metaphor for the students in the juvenile center.

“The name comes from the kids being able to look inside of themselves. To be able to look at them and not just say, ‘Oh, they’re criminals,’ but to see the beauty inside of them,” Bruggeman said. “All I See is Beauty is mainly about looking past the exterior of what they are and finding something beautiful in everything.”

Initially, the exhibit was designed to be displayed in four glass cases outside security, but after Bruggeman learned about the detention center’s extensive art pieces, it turned into a full blown exhibit, filling up the Travelers Love Field Art Gallery inside the airport as well. In addition to working with the juvenile department, Love Field also held its first college and private school exhibition earlier this year.

“This is the first time we have done an exhibition with juveniles in the system,” Bruggeman said. “We’ve worked with other educational institutions, but never quite to this factor. This is a little bit different than what we’ve done before, but this year has been a year of firsts for us.”

The juvenile detention center began the art program in January 2009 and opened their own art studio in 2015. One way the art program is funded is by individuals selected for jury duty donating their jury funds.

“That money goes back to fund the art program,” Wallace said. “Those funds really help us to buy art supplies and everything we need to keep the art program.”

Art classes are held every year and led by professional artists. For many students, the classes are the first time they are exposed to art. Master teaching artist Janet Reynolds had the opportunity to help these students create pieces for the exhibit.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity for me to be able to use my talents in support of this, and to support them, because they deserve it,” Reynolds said. “I think it’s a testimony to the untapped potential within each of them, because they came up with such incredible work.”

“All I See is Beauty,” will be on display at Love Field Airport through mid-October.