By Essie Lustig 02/28/2013
We live in aMultimedia artist and licensed art therapist Lynne Okun is on a mission to capture the aesthetic essence of Ventura County through a new, innovative program. “I want to tell the world we live in a beautiful place,” she says. How is she accomplishing this? Okun, one of the brains behind the Art Barn and Kids’ Arts, spent the last decade inspiring and enabling youth to find their own passions through a broad spectrum of artistic endeavors. She notes, “I want to use art to help people build community inside and outside of themselves. When I work, I usually involve other people.”
She’s a rainbowOkun began to find her niche at UC Davis, working with the preferred medium of the 1980s: silkscreening. She screened political posters, and realized that this was her opportunity to begin a lifetime of advocacy. Locally, Okun worked with the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance, where she helped nurture the spirits of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Okun’s main tool is art therapy, which she defines as “anything artistic that can help somebody.” Her most current endeavor is called “Exploring the YOUniverse through Art.” Okun strives to help individuals create a sense of community by helping individuals discover their unique sense of artistic freedom. According to her website, she promotes awareness through permaculture, gardening, sustainable design, earth-building, partner yoga and Thai massage.
Postcards from the edgeAs one who “loves to create programs from start to finish,” Okun took it upon herself to create a program for underserved children in the outlying cities of Fillmore and Piru, primarily children who live in Central Station, a migrant worker community. Through the use of photography, she gives these children an opportunity to explore the landscapes of their local neighborhoods, along with treks to Rancho Camulos and Rancho Temescal in Piru. The goal of the project is to create about a dozen postcards showcasing the lost treasures of Ventura County through the eyes of young people who normally do not have access to digital media tools. Known as “Capture the Beauty,” the project is ongoing. The images are taken from readily available cell phones and several donated digital cameras.
Capture and release“I enjoy the process of creating programs and providing more information for people to create more projects for kids in the community,” says Okun. Funded by the Ventura County Arts Council and private donations, “Capture the Beauty” is expanding past Piru and Fillmore by reaching out to all Ventura County youth. Images of Ventura County landscapes should be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the name and age of the participant, the precise location and a title of the image. Find Lynne Okun’s dynamic approach to life via her website: www.lynneokun.com.