2004 Heart Gallery aims to find homes for children

By Helena Rodriguez, FREEDOM NEWSPAPERS

The portraits of 60 New Mexico children will not only serve as art when they come to Clovis, they will also include heart as the spotlight shines on youth in need of adoption.
The 2004 Heart Gallery is a free event designed to showcase art and, hopefully, lead to the adoption of some children.
The gallery event is slated for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Eula Mae Edwards Museum at Clovis Community College.
Entertainment will be provided by a local band. The La Casita Elementary School ballet folklorico dance group will perform and refreshments will be served.
“The Heart Gallery focuses on older children and sibling groups in need of adoption,” said Renee Fitts, a foster and adoptive parent recruiter with the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD).
“The event is mostly to raise awareness. Children featured in the portraits have been waiting in homes for a long time to be adopted. Even though many of them are older children, they want a home, too,” Fitts said.
Fitts said Heart Gallery 2004 will be an inspirational evening. “With the pictures in our last show in Roswell, there was not a dry eye in the room,” she said.
Forty-six photographers, including Greg Erf of Portales, have volunteered their time to photograph the children.
Erf went to Roswell to visit with a 12-year-old girl he photographed to get to know her and break the ice before shooting photos for the exhibit.
He has volunteered his time to photograph children for the CYFD for several years now and felt four photographs could tell a much better picture about the child than just one. To help him bring out the best in the girl, he asked her to come up with some kind of saying about herself.
“She came up with the phrase, ‘I love animals,” which she wrote on a wall that I photographed her by,” Erf said. “The whole idea behind that is that it gives people looking at the photo an opportunity to ask her about animals. It is to create conversation with people. It says a little bit about her.”
Erf said he helps with the Heart Gallery in order to give something back to the state in which he has lived for 18 years.
He is a professor of art at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales and has a gallery in Santa Fe that represents his work. Erf recently exhibited in an “Artists South of I-40” show in Santa Fe.
Heart Gallery was created by CYFD three years ago. Since the program began, it has resulted in numerous adoptions. It has been adopted as a model program by other states and has been featured on the CBS TV special, “Home for the Holidays,” on National Public Radio and in The New York Times.
This will be the first time the tt of course, we will always consider them our family.”